Iran and China terrify the Empire, but why?

Iran and China terrify the Empire, but why?

August 11, 2020

By Aram Mirzaei for the Saker blog

The proposed 25-year deal between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the People’s Republic of China, titled “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between I.R. Iran and P.R. China” has been heavily discussed recently. While not all details in the deal are clear, it has been described by Iranian and Chinese officials as specifying the roadmap of developing and deepening Tehran-Beijing ties in “Political”, “Executive Cooperation”, “Human and Cultural”, “Judiciary, Security and Defence”, and “Regional and International” domains.

It remains unclear when such a deal will be formally clinched. But Iran’s government says the two sides have so far finalized at least 75 percent of the draft version of the pact. Once concluded, the text of the deal will be discussed for final approval in Iran’s Parliament. However, many lawmakers are already critical of the government for not consulting the deal before entering into negotiations with China.
What has so far been made public is that the 25-year cooperation roadmap will cover economy, security and military areas. Iran will reportedly supply the PRC (People’s Republic of China) with oil for 25 years. In return, China will invest heavily in Iran’s infrastructure as well as banking and telecommunications sectors, amounting to some 400 billion dollars. Reactions, both inside and outside Iran have been mixed. Some inside Iran have criticized the deal since they believe that the Islamic Republic has negotiated it from a position of weakness, in order to escape the failing JCPOA deal and its aftermath – Washington’s maximum pressure campaign. Supporters of the deal argue that the deal is a political victory against what Beijing and Tehran have identified as a common opponent.

Naturally, the US State Department and anti-Iran Farsi media outlets based outside Iran have denounced the possible deal without even knowing all the details. The US State Department went on to issue tweets in Farsi, comparing the potential Iran-China accord to the 1828 Treaty of Turkmenchay which was a peace treaty between Qajar Iran and the Russian Empire. By the treaty, Iran had to cede to Russia control of most of its areas in the South Caucasus.

As per usual, social media is the main tool they use for their propaganda. Certain think tanks led by Western governments, particularly the United States spread rumours and lies. For instance, they have created various hashtags like “No to Iran Sellout!” This has been picked up by Iranian analysts too:

“Based on our monitoring of social media, we spotted the first analyses on the Iran-China cooperation plan in US media. What the mainly US media claim is reproduced in social media, particularly Twitter. Those who are active in cyberspace and social media include users affiliated with the Zionist regime, users affiliated with the Mujahideen Khalq Organization as they are supposed to insinuate wrong interpretations into public minds in Persian language. MKO agents based in Albania and benefiting from Western funding are involved. The Zionist regime and Saudi Arabia are also cooperating by spending money and offering human resources. From as early on as 1995, Iran has been aware of the importance of the Beijing- Tehran axis as a counterweight to the U.S.-led global order. Iran and China share a desire to engage in revisionist regional moves without wanting to start a large-scale war; to put an end to US imperialism and military supremacy in the Persian Gulf region. It is a valid question however, whether this will not lead to a Chinese show of military might in the region.

Our ties with some nations may be focused on a single aspect like agriculture, culture and energy. But with China, we have reached the conclusion that we can cooperate in academic, cultural and IT and economic sectors. And regarding the strategic aspects, our ties with some countries may be periodic. But the Islamic Republic of Iran and the People’s Republic of China eye long-term cooperation. “ Hamed Vafai, China Affairs Analyst

The Iranians outside of Iran who oppose the deal are often pro-Western and echo the same lies spewed by Washington – for example when they claim that Iran has sold its soil to China, offering Beijing Iran’s Kish Island as a military base and so on. The sheer hypocrisy by Pro-US Iranians is mind-boggling. The things they accuse the Islamic Republic of doing for China are the same things their beloved “King” did for the US, if not even more. I don’t need to go into detail over how subservient the Iranian monarchy was to Washington.

Tehran has made it clear that this deal is to protect the Iranian economy from US sanctions, and that it will not cede any part of its soil to China. Tehran rejected the criticism saying is it aimed at appeasing the enemies of the Islamic Republic. “Unfortunately, a destructive line of propaganda has been initiated and directed from outside Iran against the expansion of Iran’s relations with neighbors and especially (with) China and Russia,” Iranian president’s chief of staff, Mahmoud Vaezi, said last week.

The Iranian foreign ministry spokesman, Seyed Abbas Mousavi dismissed unfounded claims of Iranian islands in the Persian Gulf being leased out to China, oil sold at exclusively low prices, or the deployment of Chinese armed forces in the Gulf, an invading force in Iranian waters that is. He said such claims were too ridiculous to even merit a denial. Apparently the Chinese response to the allegations was not so different.

So what’s in it for the parties involved?

There is no doubt that Washington’s withdrawal from the JCPOA and the subsequent sanctions imposed by Washington has left the Iranian economy in a very difficult position, especially since the EU has betrayed the deal as well. Part of the blame has been placed on the Rouhani government, which I believe to be wrong. It is counterproductive to assume that the Islamic Republic’s commitment to the JCPOA triggered the crisis since the pressure on Iran’s economy was no less severe before the JCPOA.

The trade deal itself is one of necessity as the West has failed to live up to their promises and proven once and for all that they can never be trusted. Not only have they reneged on their commitments, but they also continue to wage psychological warfare on Iran through propaganda and lies. Bearing in mind that Washington has forbidden many countries from doing deals with Tehran, I see no reason to be critical of this potential deal with the PRC as of yet. This is about the Islamic Republic’s very survival, something that the IRGC and the top leadership in Tehran have also recognized – which explains why they have remained so silent about it.

The potential partnership offers Iran a way out of the harsh US sanctions. For Iran this would translate into an injection of approximately 280 billion dollars for its energy sector and 120 billion dollars for manufacturing and transport infrastructure. In return for a discounted oil-flow to China and preferential Chinese access to various sectors of the Iranian economy, Iran would have its infrastructure given a much needed boost. The deal includes 100 projects which defy US unilateral sanctions against Iran.

China is the only remaining official buyer of Iranian oil and has strongly opposed Washington’s sanctions. It defies the US also economically together with Russia and Iran, as the three have attempted to replace the US dollar in their dealings, an act that inspired Pakistan and may have other regional states follow. Why wouldn’t the Islamic Republic with its free-falling rial want China as a potential shield against US sanctions and even motions at the UN Security Council? What other options does Iran have? To negotiate a new JCPOA with Washington, one which the US would at any time once more renege on? Besides, it should be known to all by now that the nuclear issue is not really why Washington is sanctioning the Islamic Republic.

The PRC is viewed in the West as a threat both because of its rising economic power, and more recently because of its potential political power, poised to challenge Washington’s hegemony. Crude accusations of Chinese imperialism and false expressions of “worry” for poor Asian and African countries aside, the West is worried because China’s entry into the Middle East would enhance Beijing’s position not only in West Asia, but in Central Asia and the Caucasus as well. For China, Iran could very well be a gateway into the Middle East, as it has historically also been. Iran has connections in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon where China has up until recently been absent, and their partnership could flourish as Iraq and Syria will rebuild their countries after decades of US imposed wars. The Islamic Republic can introduce lucrative projects to the Chinese who may not know the region quite well.

All this gives Washington clear reason to be annoyed since it would make the US sanctions rather useless. But Washington also knows that the implications of this potential deal are far greater than just helping Iran.

Washington knows that its position in the Middle East as the sole dominant power alongside Israel is being challenged by Russia, Iran and now China as well. The Zionist axis has lost the struggle for Syria and is desperately clinging onto the oil fields in the eastern parts of the country, they have lost in Iraq as Baghdad wants them out, and they will lose elsewhere too. Even Turkey – a NATO ally – is a loose cannon that Washington cannot trust, especially since Ankara has repeatedly refused to follow Washington’s orders. This leaves Washington with the vassal reactionary monarchies in the Persian Gulf and Israel as the only reliable “friends” of Washington’s. The birth of an alliance/united front with a common cause against the Zionist empire could potentially lead to an East-West divide situation not so different from the Cold War in Europe.

Personally, I welcome it. A bipolar balance in the region would deter Washington further from regime change attempts. The only reason for Washington’s audacity to start the Syrian and Iraqi wars were because of the power vacuum left after the dissolution of the Soviet Union – without a counter-weight against it, Washington has been free to do as it pleases in the region for the past 3 decades.

Necessity will drive China and Iran to deepen relations. Both share grievances against the US and its vassals, both are being threatened in their own regions by Washington and together with the Russian Federation, they can finally bring back a balance of power in the world. When it is all said and done, let’s see what these two ancient Asian cultures can achieve together.

China and Iran: The Century’s Most Important Geo-Strategic Transformation- by Nasser Kandil الصين وإيران أهم تحوّل جيواستراتيجيّ في القرن

The Sino-Iranian “understanding” has become the predominant preoccupation for the strategic planning elites in the United States represented by its deep state, open think tanks, and numerous study centers, and has overturned balances formerly relied on in their thinking and planning. This “understanding” will guarantee the flow of Iranian oil to China at a lower cost and in quantities exceeding oil production in the years preceding the embargo, in exchange for an Iranian resurgence financed by China and executed by Chinese and Iranian companies. Such resurgence will be encompassing and will include development in a large number of areas. It will involve the development in the manufacturing of means of public, clean energy, and commercial transportation: civilian planes, trains, railways, electric cars, commercial vessels and oil tankers; the development of quarries and mines and the manufacture of basic industrial materials: steel, iron, and marble; the building of hospital networks and a modern pharmaceutical industry; the improvement and upgrading of scientific centers for research; the building of electronic factories for the production of computers and smart phones; the building of a new network of giant airports and ports; and large housing projects for new cities. Militarily, it will pave the way for an understanding about the development of Iran’s encryption capabilities and its building up of new encryption systems, building up of bases for building solid fuel and missile manufacturing, and building-up of air-defense systems and satellites.

The Americans estimate that the value of this “understanding” in today’s world price market is 4 trillion U. S. dollars, in spite of its announced value of 500 billion dollars by the China and Iran. They believe that the proclamation of this understanding is, on one hand, the announcement of the death of the American policy of economic sanctions targeting Iran and China, and on the other, the presence of China and its readiness to progress towards the Mediterranean, the Gulf, and the Sea of Oman, through building an advanced political, economic, and services base in Iran. The Americans anticipate a 500% growth in the purchasing power of the Iranian currency, and a 300% growth in individual income in Iran within the first 5 years of this “understanding.”

They believe that Iran will have an economy similar in status to that of Germany and Japan in the 1960’s. They also believe that it will become the first and uncontested military power in the Middle East based on the significant military power it currently possesses, and which (in view of the “understanding”) is expected to dramatically increase.

Some American experts have compared the “understanding” with the agreement between Egypt in the time of President Jamal Abdel Nasser with the former Soviet Union, and believe that the Sino-Iranian “understanding” carries tenfold the danger which the Cairo-Moscow agreement had carried in its golden days. There appears to be a consensus that the “understanding” will lead to the rise of a world giant, namely China, and a regional giant, namely Iran, with only two ways of damage mitigation to the American presence and interests. The first is a quick diffusion of tensions in the Middle East through a speedy resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, in which the United States magically appears as the friend of the Arabs and isolates them from Iran. The second is an American-Russian strategic understanding which includes joint solutions for the crises in the area, and comprehensive joint cooperation in economic, political, and strategic spheres. They point to the petrification in the American strategic and political mind, which has the surface appearance of being pragmatic and not dogmatic, as a definitive obstacle preventing from any step towards mitigation of the serious damage anticipated to result from this “understanding”. Evidence of structural defects in U.S. strategic planning and accompanying political paralysis eliminate any expectation that mitigating steps could be taken.

Experts describe the “understanding” as the most prominent geo-strategic transformation of the century and the beginning of a new international era. They believe that dealing effectively with its consequences is beyond the ability of any U.S. Administration as long as its considerations begin with the protection of the interests of cartels and the military-industrial complex, irrespective of the resulting constant tension with Russia, and the protection of the interest of lobbies supporting Israel, with disregard to the resulting hatred for Americans in Arab and Islamic milieus.

الصين وإيران أهم تحوّل جيواستراتيجيّ في القرن

ناصر قنديل

تنشغل الأوساط الأميركية التي تعبر عن النخبة التخطيطية، أو عن الدولة العميقة، أو عن فرق التفكير المفتوحة، ومراكز الدراسات المتعددة، بقضية باتت تطغى على ما عداها، وقلبت موازين التفكير والتخطيط الأميركيين، عنوانها التفاهم الصيني الإيراني، الذي سيضمن تدفق النفط الإيراني نحو الصين بسعر مخفّض وبكميات تزيد عن كميات الإنتاج الإيراني في زمن ما قبل العقوبات الأميركية، مقابل نهضة إيرانية تموّلها الصين وتنفذها شركات صينية وإيرانية، لتطوير صناعة الطائرات المدنية وقاطرات سكك الحديد ومساراتها، وبناء مصانع للنسيج والجلود والصناعات الغذائية، وتطوير صناعة الصلب والحديد، والرخام والمناجم التعدينية والحجرية، وبناء شبكات مستشفيات ومصانع أدوية حديثة، وتطوير مراكز البحث العلمي، وبناء مصانع لتصنيع الإلكترونيّات بما فيها الحواسيب وأجهزة الهاتف الذكية، إضافة لشبكات جديدة من المطارات والمرافئ العملاقة، والمشاريع السكنية الضخمة لمدن جديدة، ومصانع للسيارات الكهربائية الصديقة للبيئة، والسفن التجارية وناقلات النفط، وعلى الصعيد العسكري، سيتيح التفاهم تطوير قدرات التشفير الإيرانية لبناء أنظمة جديدة للشيفرات، وقواعد لبناء الوقود الصلب لصناعة الصواريخ، وشبكات الدفاع الجوي والأقمار الصناعية.

يقدّر الأميركيون قيمة الاتفاق بالأسعار الرائجة عالمياً الاتفاق بأربعة تريليون دولار، رغم أن المعلن من جانبيه الصيني والإيراني هو خمسمئة مليار دولار، ويعتبرونه إعلان وفاة سياسية للعقوبات الأميركية التي تستهدف إيران من جهة، ومن جهة مقابلة حضوراً للصين بجهوزية التقدم نحو البحر المتوسط والخليج وبحر عمان، من خلال بناء قاعدة متطورة صناعياً واقتصادياً وخدمياً في إيران، ويتوقعون أن يرتفع مستوى القدرة الشرائية للعملة الإيرانية 500% خلال خمس سنوات، وأن يرتفع مستوى دخل الفرد 300% خلال السنوات الخمس الأولى من الاتفاق، ويعتقدون أن إيران ستصبح في وضع اقتصاديّ يشبه كلاً من ألمانيا واليابان في الستينيات من القرن الماضي، بالإضافة للمقدرات العسكرية الهائلة التي تملكها وستزداد، لتصير القوة العسكرية الأولى في الشرق الأوسط بلا منازع.

يقارن الخبراء الأميركيّون هذا الاتفاق باتفاق مصر أيام الرئيس جمال عبد الناصر مع الاتحاد السوفياتي فيقولون إنه اتفاق الصين وإيران يعادل عشر مرات درجة الخطر التي مثلها اتفاق القاهرة وموسكو في أيامه الذهبية، وثمة إجماع على اعتبار الاتفاق طريقاً لنهوض عملاق عالمي هو الصين وعملاق إقليمي هو إيران، لا يمكن الحدّ من الخسائر التي سيجلبها على الحضور والمصالح الأميركية إلا بأحد طريقين، إنهاء سريع للتأزم في المنطقة بحل للصراع العربي الإسرائيلي، بطريقة سحرية تظهر أميركا صديقاً للعرب وتعزل إيران عنهم، أو بتفاهم استراتيجي روسي أميركي، يتضمن حلولاً مشتركة لأزمات المنطقة، وتعاوناً شاملاً في القضايا الاقتصادية والسياسية والاستراتيجية، ويجيبون أن تحجُّر العقل الأميركي الاستراتيجي والسياسي، رغم كونه في الظاهر غير عقائدي وبراغماتي، يشكل عقبة حاسمة دون القدرة على السير بخطوات مناسبة للحد من أضرار هذا الاتفاق، الذي يكفي عدم القدرة على التنبؤ بحدوثه للدلالة على ما تعانيه عملية رسم الاستراتيجيات من مشاكل بنيوية، تجعل السياسة في حال عجز كامل.

الوصف الذي يطلقه الخبراء على الاتفاق، أنه أبرز تحول جيواستراتيجي في القرن، وأنه بداية لمرحلة جديدة على المستوى الدولي، وأن التعامل مع تداعياته يفوق طاقة أي إدارة أميركية، طالما أن حسابات الإدارات تبدأ من مراعاة مصالح كارتلات الصناعات العسكرية رغم ما تتسبب به من توتر مستمر في العلاقة عم روسيا، واللوبيات الداعمة لـ«إسرائيل» وما تتسبب به من كراهية للأميركي في الأوساط العربية والإسلامية.

فبدوات متعلقة

مقالات متعلقة

موسكو طهران وبكين… نموذج اقتصادي متكامل

د. حسن مرهج

من الواضح أنّ السياسية الصينية في المنطقة تسير وفق مسارين:

الأول – تسعى الصين إلى الالتفاف على العقوبات الأميركية وبناء تحالفات استراتيجية مع دول عديدة تناهض السياسات الأميركية في المنطقة، في محاولة لإنشاء منظومة سياسية وعسكرية واقتصادية، توازي شبكة العلاقات الأميركية قوة وتنظيماً وتأثيراً في سياسات المنطقة.

الثاني – هناك رغبة صينية واضحة لوضع حدّ للتحكم الأميركي في السياسات الدولية والإقليمية، ولا سبيل لوضع آلية تُقيد السياسات الأميركية، إلا بتحالفات مع دول قوية في المنطقة، وعلى رأس تلك الدول الجمهورية الإسلامية الإيرانية.

انطلاقاّ من هذين المسارين، ترى الصين أنّ إيران واحدة من أهمّ الدول لربط آسيا بأوروبا من خلال مبادرة الحزام والطريق، التي تمثل المحرك الأساس للسياسة الخارجية الصينية منذ أعلنها الرئيس الصيني شي جين بينغ في العام 2013، ولاعب أساسي في الحفاظ على استقرار منطقة الخليج العربي التي تعدّ الشريان الرئيس لوصول النفط إلى الصين.

وعليه، بات واضحاً أنّ أحد أهمّ أوجه العلاقة الصينية الإيرانية، تعزيز المصالح الاقتصادية والاستراتيجية، بُغية تقويض الأهداف الأميركية في المنطقة، إذ يبدو واضحاً أنّ الصين وإيران تعملان منذ مدّة على شراكة استراتيجية لمدة 25 عاماً، والواضح أيضاً أنّ الشراكة ستسمّى شراكة استراتيجية شاملة بين الصين وإيران.

وبما أنّ علاقات إيران مع الصين جادّة وتشكّل أساس التعاون الاقتصادي والاستراتيجي بين البلدين في شكل وثيقة مدتها 25 عاماً، فمن الطبيعي أن تهتمّ الدول الغربية بهذه العلاقات، وبشكل أساسي فإنّ السياسة الأنجلو ساكسونية للأميركيين والبريطانيين هي التركيز على الضغط على إيران من أجل إبعادها عن الصين وروسيا، لكن فشلت هذه السياسة، وفشلت معها السياسة الأميركية لاستعمار إيران، وما يؤكد هذا الأمر أنّ الصين ستُشارك في “بناء البنية التحتية الأساسية لإيران” كجزء من مبادرة “حزام واحد وطريق واحد”؛ هذا المشروع الذي يُعدّ مشروعاً للتكامل الاقتصادي بين البلدين.

فقد أدركت الصين وإيران وضمناً روسيا، أنّ الاتحاد والتعاون هما الوسيلة الوحيدة لتعزيز التبادل على المستويات كافة، وبات ضرورة لمحاربة المشكلات الداهمة التي يمثلها تنامي النفوذ الأميركي في الشؤون الداخلية للدول، حيث أن النفوذ الأميركي أجبر طهران وبكين وموسكو على تحييد الخلافات الثانوية، وتبني استراتيجية موحدة من أجل المصلحة المشتركة للدفاع عن مصالحهم في المنطقة.

والواضح أن أحداث مثل الحرب على سورية، والأزمة في ليبيا، والإطاحة بالنظام الديمقراطي في أوكرانيا، والعقوبات على إيران، والضغط المباشر على بكين في بحر الصين الجنوبي، كلها عوامل سرّعت في التكامل بين الصين وإيران وروسيا.

في جانب آخر مُتعلق بعمق العلاقة الإيرانية الصينية، نجد أنّ جوهر هذه العلاقة يرتكز على الاقتصاد، في المقابل ومن خلال تحليل القوة الاقتصادية نجد أن المنظمات العابرة للحدود مثل منظمة التجارة العالمية وصندوق النقد الدولي والبنك الدولي، تضمن دور واشنطن كزعيم اقتصادي، والركائز التي تدعم مركزية الولايات المتحدة في الاقتصاد العالمي يُمكن أن تُعزى إلى السياسة النقدية للبنك الاحتياطي الفيدرالي ووظيفة الدولار كعملة احتياط عالمية، خاصة مجلس الاحتياطي الاتحادي لديه قدرة غير محدودة لطباعة النقود ولتمويل القوة الاقتصادية للقطاعين الخاص والعام، وكذلك لدفع الفاتورة الواجبة للحروب المكلفة جداّ، وضمن ذلك فإنّ الدولار الأميركي يلعب دوراً رئيسياً كعملة احتياطية عالمية، وكذلك يستخدم كعملة للتجارة، وهذا يُحتم على كلّ بنك مركزي امتلاك احتياطيات بالعملة الأميركية، وتكريس أهمية واشنطن في النظام الاقتصادي العالمي. من هنا فإنّ إدخال اليوان الصيني والتومان الإيراني في التعاملات التجارية بين بكين وطهران، ومن الممكن أن تتسع مروحة هذه التعاملات بالعملات المحلية للبلدين، لتشمل دولاً عديدة ترغب بالابتعاد عن مخاطر التعامل بالدولار الأميركي، كلّ ذلك وسائل وأجراس إنذار الاستراتيجيين الأميركيين حول خطر تآكل مكانة العملة الأميركية.

في المحصلة، فإنّ الصين وإيران وضمناً روسيا بحاجة لإيجاد نظام اقتصادي بديل، لتأمين الجوانب الحيوية للاقتصاد المحلي، فقد لقد لعب انهيار سوق الأسهم في الصين، وانخفاض قيمة الروبل في روسيا، والعقوبات غير القانونية المفروضة على إيران، دوراً عميقاً في تثبيت أهداف موسكو وطهران وبكين، لإيجاد نقاط التلاقي بين البلدان الثلاثة، ولتشكيل منظومة اقتصادية قادرة على ضعضعة الهيمنة الأميركية على العالم.

Tel Aviv Anticipates: Sino-Iranian Partnership Will Change the Rules of the Game ترقّب في تل أبيب: التعاون الإيراني ــ الصيني سيُغيِّر قواعد اللعبة

Tel Aviv Anticipates: Sino-Iranian Partnership Will Change the Rules of the Game

Tel Aviv Anticipates: Sino-Iranian Partnership Will Change the Rules of the Game

By Ali Haydar, Al-Akhbar

Amid the official “Israeli” silence regarding the upcoming Sino-Iranian deal, commentators in the “Israeli” entity have attempted to demonstrate the atmosphere in Tel Aviv. However, this temporary silence does not change the fact that the bodies concerned with assessment and decision are strongly interested in the aforementioned course. For this reason, it is not difficult to foresee the evaluations of the authorities of this event, which, after signing the agreement, will create a critical stage in the movement of the international and regional conflict, particularly in facing the United States’ economic warfare against Iran.

Substantively, the particularity of the deal in the current international and regional context is that it embodies cooperation between the US’ two arch-rivals. On the one hand, it is a reinforcement of the Chinese’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative they push forward by constructing ports and leading huge infrastructure projects around the world, which Washington seeks to thwart and encircle. On the other hand, it evades the latter’s economic embargo on Iran aimed to weaken Tehran amid a $400 billion investment for over 25 years. “Israel” Hayom daily concluded in the light of the deal’s results that it would lead to a new strategic reality that would change the rules of the game in the Middle East.

Over the past years, Tel Aviv was eager to boost its economic ties with Beijing, to the point that Washington has had to raise a red card to stop it from going farther. Military Affairs commentator for the “Israeli” daily Haaretz, Amos Harel, described the deal as “a clear Chinese line-up alongside Iran that will relieve pressure on it”, which is the most important challenge from the enemy entity’s perspective because Tehran did not provide any concessions concerning neither the nuclear and missile issues, nor its position on Palestine and the resistance forces amid the extreme economic pressures; so imagine how things will be after it gets stronger? In the longer-term, Harel did not rule out that China will form “in more extreme circumstances… an alliance that could serve as a counterweight to American-‘Israeli’ friction with the Iranian regime over its nuclear program”. Consequently, Harel invited Washington and Tel Aviv to seriously consider Beijing’s response to any economic escalation against the Islamic Republic.

The approach of Yedioth Ahronoth’s Military Affairs commentator, Ron Ben-Yishai, who saw the deal as “a lifeline for the Iranian economy steeped under American sanctions”, and at the same time, “would strengthen China’s position as an international power and its engagement in the Middle East.” This would deliver a heavy blow to President Donald Trump’s policies in the Middle East, as well as the position of the US as an international power. Based on his analysis, what interests “Israel” and the US more is more or less related to technological and military cooperation, a “cyber defense cooperation”, as the deal stipulates. Bin Yishai expected that the deal affects the “Israeli”-Chinese relations because it will undermine the global position of the US, and it will also strengthen Iran’s position and power in the face of American and “Israeli” efforts to thwart its nuclear program. Other commentators also considered that the political timing of the momentum of pushing towards the deal implied a negative indication for Tel Aviv and Washington, a thorn in Trump’s side, and an expression of a Chinese approach opposed to any additional Security Council sanctions against Iran.

Conversely, “Israel” is not expected to remain passive in the face of mounting cooperation between Beijing and Tehran. Rather, it may try to revitalize its diplomatic channels with China to discourage it from pursuing this option, or to influence its content. In this context, the Jerusalem Post called not to grant China huge tenders in “Israeli” infrastructure, due to be submitted by the end of next month, noting that all Chinese companies operating in the “Israeli” entity are directly or indirectly owned by the government. However, the “Israeli” daily said that this position is not in response to American interests, but rather is a fulfillment of “Israeli” national security interests.

ترقّب في تل أبيب: التعاون الإيراني ــ الصيني سيُغيِّر قواعد اللعبة

علي حيدر 

الإثنين 20 تموز 2020

ترقّب في تل أبيب: التعاون الإيراني ــ الصيني سيُغيِّر قواعد اللعبة
وسط الضغوط الاقتصادية على إيران يجري الحديث عن استثمار 400 مليار دولار خلال 25 عاماً (أ ف ب )

وسط الصمت الرسمي الإسرائيلي، حتى الآن، إزاء الاتفاقية الصينية ــ الإيرانية المرتقبة، عمد المعلقون الإسرائيليون إلى محاولة تظهير الأجواء في تل أبيب. مع ذلك، لا يغير هذا الصمت المؤقت من حقيقة حضور هذا المسار بقوة لدى جهات التقدير والقرار، إذ ليس من الصعوبة استشراف تقديرات الجهات المختصة لهذا الحدث الذي سيشكل، بعد التوقيع على الاتفاقية، محطة مفصلية في حركة الصراع الدولي والإقليمي، وتحديداً في مواجهة الحرب الاقتصادية الأميركية ضد الجمهورية الإسلامية. خصوصية الاتفاقية في السياق الدولي والإقليمي الحالي أنها تجسّد تعاوناً بين الخصمين اللدودين للولايات المتحدة. فمن جهة، هي تشكل تعزيزاً لاستراتيجية الصينيين، «حزام واحد طريق واحد»، التي يدفعون بها قدماً عبر بناء موانئ وقيادة مشاريع بنى تحتية ضخمة في أنحاء العالم، والتي تسعى واشنطن إلى إحباطها وتطويقها، ومن جهة أخرى، تشكل التفافاً على الحصار الاقتصادي الذي تراهن عليه الأخيرة من أجل إخضاع طهران وإضعافها، فيما يجري الحديث عن استثمار بنحو 400 مليار دولار على مدى 25 عاماً. من هنا، كان تقدير نتائج الاتفاقية في صحيفة «يسرائيل هيوم» أنها ستؤدي إلى واقع استراتيجي جديد ينتج عنه تغيير في قواعد اللعبة في الشرق الأوسط.

خلال السنوات الماضية، أبدت تل أبيب حرصاً شديداً على تعزيز علاقاتها الاقتصادية مع بكين، إلى درجة أن واشنطن اضطرت إلى رفع بطاقة حمراء للحد من اندفاعها بعيداً في هذا المسار. لكن هذا لم يحل دون أن يرى معلق الشؤون العسكرية في صحيفة «هآرتس»، عاموس هرئيل، في الاتفاقية «اصطفافاً صينياً واضحاً إلى جانب إيران سيخفّف الضغط عنها»، وهو التحدي الأهم من منظور كيان العدو، لأنه وسط الضغوط القصوى الاقتصادية لم تقدم طهران أي تنازلات في أي من القضايا النووية والصاروخية والموقف من فلسطين وقوى المقاومة، فكيف سيكون الأمر بعد تعزيز وضعها. في مدى أبعد، لم يستبعد هرئيل أن تشكل الصين «في ظروف أكثر تطرفاً… توازناً مضاداً في حال احتكاك أميركي ــ إسرائيلي مع النظام الإيراني حول البرنامج النووي». وتوَّج معلق الشؤون العسكرية تقديره بدعوة واشنطن وتل أبيب أن تأخذا في الحسبان وبجدية رد فعل بكين على أي تصعيد اقتصادي ضد الجمهورية الإسلامية.

ما يثير الاهتمام الأميركي والإسرائيلي في الاتفاقية هو البنود التكنولوجية والعسكرية


في الاتجاه نفسه، جاءت مقاربة معلق الشؤون العسكرية في صحيفة «يديعوت أحرونوت»، رون بن يشاي، الذي رأى في الاتفاقية «طوق نجاة للاقتصاد الإيراني الغارق تحت العقوبات الأميركيّة»، وفي الوقت نفسه أنه «سيعزز مكانة الصين كقوّة دولية، وانخراطها في الشرق الأوسط». وهو إضافة إلى ذلك سيوجّه ضربة قويّة إلى سياسات الرئيس الأميركي، دونالد ترامب، في الشرق الأوسط، ومكانة الولايات المتحدة كقوّة دوليّة. وطبقاً لتحليله، ما يثير اهتمام إسرائيل والولايات المتحدة خاصّة الجزء المتعلّق بالتعاون التكنولوجي والعسكري، كما ينصّ الاتفاق على «تعاون للدفاع السيبراني». وبخصوص التداعيات، توقع بن يشاي أن تترك الاتفاقية آثاراً على العلاقات الإسرائيلية ــ الصينية، لأنها ستقوّض مكانة الولايات المتحدة العالمية، كما أنها ستُعزز مكانة إيران وقوتها في مواجهة المساعي الأميركية والإسرائيلية لإحباط البرنامج النووي. وفي إطار التداعيات، رأى بعض المعلقين أن التوقيت السياسي لتزخيم الدفع نحو الاتفاقية ينطوي على مؤشر سلبي لتل أبيب وواشنطن، كأنه إصبع في عين ترامب، وتعبير عن توجه صيني معارض لأي عقوبات إضافية من مجلس الأمن على إيران.

في المقابل، لا يُتوقع أن تبقى إسرائيل مكتوفة الأيدي أمام التعاون التصاعدي بين بكين وطهران، بل قد تحاول تنشيط قنواتها الدبلوماسية مع العاصمة الصينية لمحاولة ثنيها عن هذا الخيار، أو التأثير في مضمونه. في هذا السياق، دعت صحيفة «جيروزاليم بوست» إلى عدم منح الصين مناقصات ضخمة في البنى التحتيّة الإسرائيليّة من المقرّر أن تقدّم أوراقها نهاية الشهر المقبل، مع الإشارة إلى أن جميع الشركات الصينية العاملة في إسرائيل مملوكة للحكومة مباشرة أو غير مباشرة. لكن الصحيفة قالت إن هذا الموقف ليس تلبية لمصالح أميركية، وإنما هو تحقيقٌ لمصالح الأمن القومي الإسرائيلي.

Sayyed Nasrallah’s Full Speech on July 7, 2020: The Day He Launched Battle to Confront Economic Crisis

Source

Sayyed Nasrallah’s Full Speech on July 7, 2020: The Day He Launched Battle to Confront Economic Crisis
Click here for Video

Translated by Staff

Televised speech by Hezbollah’s Secretary General, His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, on the latest local and regional developments (7/7/2020)

I seek refuge in Allah from the accursed Satan. In the name of Allah the Most Gracious the Merciful. Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, and prayers and peace be upon our Master and Prophet, the Seal of Prophets, Abi al-Qassem Muhammad Bin Abdullah and his good and pure household and his good and chosen companions and all the prophets and messengers.

Peace and Allah’s mercy and blessings be upon you all. 

I apologize for the delay. We took up a few minutes for prayer time. God willing, we will address this matter in the future.

In the name of Allah the Most Gracious the Merciful. Before I begin talking about tonight’s main topics, I would like to briefly shed light on some occasions.

First, we are nearing the anniversary of the July 2006 war, which the “Israeli” enemy calls the second Lebanon war. It was a war in the full sense of the word.

We remember the enormous sacrifices, the great victories, and the great failure of the American-“Israeli” project in our region that was called the New Middle East.

I just wanted to say as the anniversary is nearing – from July 12 to August 14 – that we have ample time to talk about this war and this occasion as well as speak with the families of the martyrs, the wounded, the mujahideen, those who made sacrifices, were patient, gave their support, the victors, and about those defeated in this war.

The anniversary of the defeat of the takfiri terrorists that were controlling the Jaroud in the Bekaa area is coming in a few days. The Jaroud, as the Lebanese people remember, was liberated in two stages. The first stage was following the confrontation with the Nusra Front. The second stage was following the confrontations with Daesh. The former stage was achieved in the month of July around this time.

The third occasion that I would like to point to is the tenth anniversary of the passing of His Eminence Ayatollah Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, who was a compassionate father, a wise guide, and a strong pillar in all stages. He was all this to us and to this faithful, jihadi, and resisting generation.

After ten years, we still feel that his pure spirit is with us. I am repeating the same text that was in the obituary ten years ago. We feel that his pure spirit, his kind words, his kind smile, and his solid positions have remained in us, will continue to guide us, and be a strong renewed motivation for us to persist and continue jihad.

This is the last point in the introduction. In the past few days, we lost a great scholar and investigator, who came from a long line of scholars and martyrs. His Eminence, the late Allamah Sheikh Mohammad Jaafar Shamseddine, may he rest in peace. He provided Islam, the Islamic culture and thought as well as the youth and the Hawzas with great scientific and educational services. He was also a supporter and a backer of the resistance in Lebanon through all the stages. He made great efforts, even risking his well-being, to unite all the ranks, and face sedition during the most difficult days of the resistance.

On behalf of Hezbollah and myself, I extend our deepest condolences and heart-felt sympathies to his honorable family. And I ask God Almighty to grant them patience and solace and receive him in His mercy. May He accommodate him in his spacious paradise and join him with his loved ones and with Muhammad and his pure household (peace be upon them all).

I intend to discuss three topics.

First part: The economic and the living situation in Lebanon as well as the attempts to address and confront it – this is the Lebanese people’s daily concern

Second part: Lebanese politics

Third part: Regional developments

Before we start talking about the first topic, things must be corrected and stirred in the right direction. The current situation people are living – at the financial, economic, and political levels – requires unity among all Lebanese and cooperation. Therefore, I do not want to enter into quarrels with anyone regarding everything I will present or say, but rather I will try to be as positive as I can. 

Economic collapse or starvation doesn’t affect one area of Lebanon or one group. Unfortunately, some speak this language. So, anyone trying to confront this must do so with the awareness of how to solve the problem for all Lebanese in every area. I should not only care about my people, area, or a couple of villages. It should be a national approach. 

This cannot be simply be disassembled or simplified as some people think. We need a continuous integrated national effort. Each one of us must think of all the Lebanese people and residents on Lebanese territory. This includes the Palestinian refugees, the displaced Syrians, non-Lebanese residents residing in Lebanon. 

At the end of the day when certain things collapse or certain dangers occur, the repercussions will be on everyone. This is a main issue that should be present in any approach. The approach should stem from what our humanity, morals, our religion, and our patriotism tell us. 

Based on the aforementioned, I said that we need to correct some things to be on the right track. 
In the context of correction, when we raised the issue of turning eastward, I was clear in my last speech that this didn’t mean turning our back on the West. I was clear when I said that we must be open to the whole world except “Israel”. 

And I had the courage to say that even though America is an enemy in our political and cultural thought, we will not be an obstacle if it is going to help Lebanon, like any country in the world, and take it out of its crisis.

Turning eastward does not mean being cut off from the rest of the world. On the contrary, it’s turning east, west, north, and south. Turning to any country except for the usurper entity. Any country that is ready can come to Lebanon, invest in Lebanon, work in Lebanon, put deposits in the central bank, provide aid and loans, open lines of credit. We’re completely open to this.

Unfortunately, some tried to improperly classify the matter and say we’re pitting one axis in Lebanon against the other. We never said this. Some have said that the U.S. and the West are Lebanon’s indispensable oxygen. We are not asking you to cut it off. Breathe it. But my question is what will you do if the U.S. cuts it off? Will you die or look for another source of oxygen to stay alive?

We do not want to cut off oxygen from anyone in Lebanon at all. We are also putting all our ideological, jihadist, and political considerations aside, with the exception of the “Israeli” issue. I say, let Lebanon be open to everyone so that it can overcome this difficult stage.

Others said that the goal of turning eastward was to change the face of Lebanon’s civilization and the identity of its economic system – honestly when one looks at the comments and responses, he can only laugh at them – as if Lebanon isn’t in the Middle East but in South or North America. Lebanon is part of the East. Nobody raised this matter. 

For example, if we said that China is going to invest in Lebanon and will commit to projects without taking a penny from the Lebanese state, that is according to the B.O.T. format, does that mean we want to transform Lebanon’s economic structure into a communist or socialist one? This talk is just to disrupt. It is not based on any reason.

Regarding Iran, some said we are trying to turn Lebanon into an Iranian model. We never said this. All we said was that we have a friend called Iran who can sell us fuel/petroleum byproducts in Lebanese pounds. We are asking it for help. Otherwise, they need hard currency, they need dollars and the euros.

When the Iranians accept to sell Lebanon fuel/petroleum byproducts in Lebanese liras, they are making a big sacrifice. What does this have to do with applying the Iranian model or the Iranian economic model. It is like “Lebanon is on the Mediterranean Sea; thus, Brazil exists.” What does this have to do with that? It is just intended to scare and intimidate people and instill doubt. 

Even though we do not have a problem regarding this matter. We only have a few countries in the world that we are friends with or have relations with. We have no problem with you bringing fuel/petroleum byproducts to Lebanon using Lebanese pounds. We will not be intimidated. We will not accuse you of imposing their model onto Lebanon. 

Also, you can rest assured. Lebanon doesn’t currently have the components to be transformed into the Iranian model, not that the Iranian model is a bad thing. The Iranian model enabled Iran to withstand 40 years of wars, sanctions, and blockade. Iran eats what it grows. It has a semi self-sufficient agriculture. It has advanced industries and very sophisticated military industry.

A few months ago, Iran sent a satellite into space. The Iranian model has self-sufficiency in gasoline, diesel, fuel and electricity. It sells electricity and fuel to neighboring countries. It produces over 90% of its medicinal needs. It also sells medicine to neighboring countries.

Hence, this model produces results. Why are you scared of it? Nonetheless, Lebanon doesn’t have the components for the Iranian model. So, rest assured. 

If the brothers in Iran extended a helping hand to their brothers in Lebanon in some way, this should be respected and appreciated, and not a point of intimidation or skepticism.

Iran has withstood 40 years of sanctions and still is. Of course, it has a problem with the hard currency because the world is connected to the dollar, to New York, to America, and to this process. This is problem of the world today. The dollar is what is left of the America’s strength, apart from the military power. The U.S. holds on to the dollar and imposes financial and economic sanctions. However, despite all the threats and the sanctions, Iran was steadfast for 40 years. No country in the world, regardless of its economic model, would have been able to resist for 40 years the way Iran did amid all the wars, sanctions, and blockade.  

Look at Lebanon. It was subject to some sanctions and intimidation, and some people and political forces are ready to cave in and abandon everything.

In any case, we said we did not want to create debates. But I would like to reassure everyone that no one is trying to impose the Iranian model on Lebanon’s economy or change the face of Lebanon’s civilization. We do not want to transform the economic system into a communist or a socialist system.

All we mean by turning eastward is that since France won’t disburse CEDRE funds, the U.S. is imposing sanctions, and the Arab countries won’t help for different reasons, we should accept help from whomever offers.

So, if China, Iran, Iraq, Russia, or any country in the world – be it in the east or the west – is ready to provide assistance, Lebanon should be open to it. It must communicate with this country. It must look for opportunities.

This is just to clarify matters.

We come to where we are today. When approaching the economic, living, financial, and monetary crisis, we must talk about them while people keep pace. We all must have the knowledge and the awareness so that we can together face this challenge and threat.

A lot of the Lebanese have political awareness and culture. Many of them have awareness and culture of the economic and financial issue. But we must generalize this culture so that we can all keep pace and shoulder the responsibilities.

The first part:

There are two levels in the economic crisis.

The first level: There is a big and huge topic when talking about getting Lebanon out of its economic crisis and reaching a stage of economic recovery and stability. This is because there is a debt of about 80 billion to one hundred billion dollars. We have deep economic crises. There is a discussion regarding the old and current economic policies. This is a big topic, of course, that needs the state with all its institutions, the society, and perhaps external help. We are not talking about this topic. 

The second level: There are risks of economic and financial collapse. There are risks of hunger. How do we prevent economic collapse and hunger and their repercussions on the Lebanese people and residents in Lebanon?

We are talking about the second level. How do we prevent collapse and starvation? This must be addressed first before we can deal with the first level.

Of course, if we can achieve this, we will enable the country, the state, the government, the state institutions, the army, the Lebanese people, and the security forces to withstand and continue the path in addressing the first level – getting out of the economic crisis. 

So today I will be talking about several points related to the second level.

1- The first thing we call for when talking about the second level is that we shouldn’t confine ourselves to one path in trying to prevent collapse like confining ourselves to IMF negotiations and awaiting their results before starting on alternative paths. What if these talks fail in six months or a year? Do we only then start looking?

We must not derail this path – negotiations with the IMF. But we must open up all possible pathways that would prevent Lebanon’s collapse and starvation. On this basis, we spoke about a set of ideas, and the topic of turning eastward came up in the general methodology. There must not be a state of despair or surrender among the Lebanese people. Passive waiting must not take over the general performance – to wait and see what the IMF will decide; will the U.S. forgive Lebanon or not? What are the developments that might take place in the region? by doing so, we are not being active. Rather we are waiting passively. This is wrong.

As a state and a people, we must be active. We should not stay home and wait. Whatever path can be opened, we must open it. Whatever path leads to a solution, even if we are not sure it will to results, we must take it. We must knock on all doors to reach a possible outcome.

Today, the Lebanese state and people are facing a threat – the threat of collapse and starvation. This is the most serious threat that can face a people or a state. Should we give up to the threat? Or should we turn it into an opportunity? I say to all the Lebanese people: we as a state and people – we will not talk about the tripartite equation because we need a different and new equation – are able to turn the threat into an opportunity. This threat can even be an occasion to take very important steps that will not only save Lebanon, but they will also put Lebanon on the track for economic prosperity and not repeating the failed policies of the past.

I will say how. We must have hope, confidence in our ability to rise and transform threats into opportunities, and not despair, surrender, and submit. We must have the mentality that we can do so much when it comes to, for example, moving the wheel of the economy. I will shed light on the agricultural and industrial productions later.

The Lebanese government and we were told that Chinese companies are ready to invest billions of dollars in Lebanon. I will not delve into numbers. It is natural for Lebanon to initiate talks – just as PM Hassan Diab did – and not wait since the Chinese did not talk to us or send us anything. 

You can see that the country is in danger. You as an official must initiate talks with China. Ask the Chinese about their conditions and see whether these conditions are in the interest of Lebanon and if Lebanon can accommodate them. So, we opt for this option instead of waiting around ad putting doubt like some Lebanese people are doing. Some said that China is not ready and has no desire to invest in Lebanon. China will not make a problem with the U.S. for Lebanon. 

Hold on. Why are we disagreeing on this? Let us ask the Chinese. What is the point of diplomacy, the Foreign Ministry, and the people concerned with the economy? Let the Lebanese state – not Hezbollah, the Amal movement, the Free Patriotic movement, or any political party – talk to the Chinese. There should be no mediation regarding this matter.  

If you want an indication of the effectiveness of the Chinese offer, just look at the angry American response, from Pompeo, to Schenker, to US State Department aides, to the US ambassador in Lebanon. All of them started saying that the Chinese aid won’t help. China will spy on Lebanon, as if the CIA isn’t. And if something went wrong regarding the financial obligations, they will confiscate the state’s assets. They started talking in this sense to spread fear. This is evidence that this is a useful and serious option. Otherwise, why else would the Americans do this? Why would they want to launch a clear and open campaign? They are launching this campaign to scare the Lebanese people from doing business with the Chinese. This is only evidence that the Chinese offer will release the American stranglehold on Lebanon, and I’ll talk about that shortly. 

Now, the Lebanese government should contact China, send delegations to China, and engage in direct discussions, and through some media outlets. This is one.

2- We also thank our Iraqi brothers. Ministers from the Iraqi government came and met with Lebanese officials, including the prime minister and competent ministers. There was a positive atmosphere that was reflected in the media. We should follow up on this matter.

I repeat and affirm, Iraq is a very great opportunity for Lebanon. It is an open country, a friendly country, and a loving country. The relationship between Iraq and Lebanon as two countries and two peoples are excellent. Iraq is a very large and capable country economically. We can start cooperation at the level of agriculture, industry, medicine, and tourism – there is mutual religious tourism. All these are opportunities. They will allow the flow of money, create job opportunities, and revive the different sectors. 

We already have naysayers saying we shouldn’t pursue the Iraqi option because the U.S. might pressure the Iraqi government. So, should we just sit and despair? Or should the Lebanese government send a delegation, like the Iraqis did, and continue negotiations to reach results. This is also another option to be explored. 

We spoke about these two propositions. Thank God, there are options to be explored. 

3- The third issue that we raised was the central bank. The central bank has to pay billions of dollars. There is a problem in numbers in Lebanon. But there are billions of dollars to cover Lebanon’s need for oil derivatives. If we asked our brothers in Iran to sell us gasoline, oil, gas, oil derivatives, and diesel in Lebanese pounds, this would relieve pressure off the central bank, which is hard-pressed for dollars. 

This amount, if it is available to the central bank, would allow it to give to the banks to solve the depositors’ problems. 

This proposition has a lot of advantages. I will not talk about them because if I did, it would be understood as putting pressure on the Lebanese. 

I don’t want to speak ahead of the brothers in Iran. but eventually, they will declare an official position. But I can tell the Lebanese people this: I guarantee you this.

In any case, we started discussions and presented it to Lebanese officials. There is a calm discussion regarding this matter. let us see how the matter unfolds away from the media and explanations made in the media. Let us where this option will lead. But this option has great advantages on the assets of Lebanon’s central bank, on banks, on depositors, on agriculture, on industry, on electricity plants, on electricity, on the value of the national currency, on the trade balance. We will talk about this detail later.

Of course, there are some who are spreading doubts and intimidation. What’s the end result we will get? I don’t know, but we must still explore all options, so our conscience is clear – we tried everything to rescue Lebanon economically.

In the same context, the Lebanese government should also initiate. It should contact other states. It seems that there is something of this sort. Let them say no. but at the very least, we are trying and looking for options. 

We must also not forget the option of opening up to Syria. The situation should not remain that the whole country has surrendered to the Caesar Act. We must challenge this law. There are loopholes and exceptions. We must not surrender to this law.

In any case, what does this methodology mean? It means that there is a movement towards confronting hunger and collapse. This gives hope to the Lebanese, meaning that we are not powerless, and we did not surrender. At the same time, it sends a powerful message to the Americans and others who wants to strangle Lebanon: we have alternatives, and you won’t be able to blockade, strangle, starve, or defeat Lebanon. This will force America to despair and to do so quickly. This is the importance of this methodology.

Based on the above, one of the options we have in Lebanon is right in front of us. I am not imposing this option as we have agreed from the beginning that there are more than one road and more than one choice. Decades of economic policies in the country – I will not criticize whether they were right or wrong – turned Lebanon into a service-oriented economy with the focus on the banking sector, tourism – that is airport expansion and building ports, highways, and hotels. A country reliant on the service industry. 

These policies were within a vision – a true or false vision is another discussion. What happened due to these policies? These policies led to collapse of two sectors: the agricultural and industrial sectors. These two sectors remained steadfast despite all the conditions that Lebanon went through before and during the civil war and after the invasion in 1982 to 1990s.

The policies that were adopted led to the collapse of these two sectors. In the agricultural sector, you find that the farmer is not supported. There is no budget. There is no financing of agricultural projects. There are no agricultural investments. This of course increases the cost of production. When the farmers are not being supported with the production costs, the cost of production becomes increases. When the cost of production increases, it would difficult for marketing this agricultural product in the Lebanese or foreign markets since other produce are cheaper. Thus, the farmer will be forced to throw them on the streets like we see every year.

Also, some invested in the agricultural sector when the rates the central bank or the banks were high. This person looked at the profit he would be from investing in agriculture or industry. It is more or less 5 or 10%. So, he put his money in the bank and waited for his profit. Basically, these policies destroyed the agricultural and industrial sectors. Thus, we became a consumer country, a country that buys everything. We even import basic foodstuffs from abroad. We became almost completely a consumer country.

Now, we’re feeling the mistake and the danger. But we can still turn this into an opportunity and address the problem. The Lebanese people are afraid of collapse and hunger. What should we do? We have to turn Lebanon into a productive country, regardless of the international economic situation. 

Regardless of the future of the world economy after COVID-19, whatever happens to the U.S. economy or the economy in the region, being productive is essential for any country to live a decent life. Can we survive without oxygen? Can we live without water? Agriculture and industry are like oxygen and water to any people. Former policies asked us to live off imported oxygen and water. I’m just giving an analogy here. our industry and agriculture were put aside. Everything we wear, use, eat, and drink should come from abroad. Today, we can change the equation and start producing.

Here lies the responsibility of the Lebanese state, the Council of Ministers, the Parliament, and officials. Meanwhile, the people’s responsibility is to support the state. We must all cooperate. The Lebanese state should revive the agricultural and industrial sectors. All the political forces as well as the parliamentary blocs, the government, and the officials should all shoulder their responsibilities in reviving these sectors to enable the country to stand on its feet and prevent it from going hungry. The Lebanese people also have a responsibility. They are a big part of this battle and its main driving force.

In other words, we must plant. We have vast swathes of arable land. Lebanon’s climate is suitable as is the environment. It has rivers and springs. The water is only wasted because it flows into the Mediterranean. Land reclamation for agriculture is not a difficult and complicated process if all the possibilities are available. So, what do we need?

We need to make a decision. We need will power and start planting. Let us take the agricultural sector and based on it approach the industrial issue. What do we need?

First, the people should believe in the option to cultivate. Secondly, there should be motivation, will, and determination. Thirdly, we have to cultivate the land. We as Lebanese people, state, political parties, cooperatives, merchants, etc. should help people who are cultivating and reduce the cost of production. We should help those planting and producing sell their produce in the local and external markets. We should cooperate in this whole process. We need guidance; what should be cultivated and how much. The same goes to industry. We might start with craft (handmade) industry or something to do with food that is low cost because we want to stave of hunger. This is the path required now.

What I am saying today is on behalf of Hezbollah and not the Lebanese government. on behalf of Hezbollah, we call on the Lebanese people to fight the battle of reviving the agricultural and industrial sectors. We call for an agricultural and industrial renaissance as a necessary condition for resilience, facing hunger, and living in dignity.

This matter was part of our interests. But our priority was and still is resistance. Then we have the political work. We also have activities related to agriculture and craft industry as well as of social and medical nature. But these activities are limited.

But today we in Hezbollah took the decision to confront collapse and hunger. We say that this is Lebanon’s battle, just as the resistance’s military battles to liberate the land or to fight the takfiri terrorists are Lebanon’s and the Lebanese people’s battles, even though some are not fighting them. This is Lebanon’s battle as well as the Lebanese people’s and people residing on Lebanese territory. Everyone should be fighting it.

That is why the entirety of Hezbollah will be fully committed to this, not just a certain apparatus, unit, or institution. 

Today, I want to announce that we have taken the decision that all of Hezbollah, with its human and material capabilities, relationships, friendships, and alliances will be at the heart of this confrontation, challenge, and battle. And we want to cooperate with everyone, just as we did in the fight against COVID-19. We came out in full force. We saw how the situation in the country was when all the Lebanese people cooperated with each other in the fight against the pandemic – even though we need to emphasize on this again. 

In the same context, I would like to address the supporters of the resistance and tell them that in the past decades and years, we adopted the slogan: “Where we should be, we will be”. So, we were present wherever we were needed. We achieved victory and accomplished goals during every challenge; this is what happened during the resistance and liberation battle, during the confrontations with the takfiri terrorists, and in the face of projects, such as the new Middle East. We assessed whether the challenges required us to be there, and we achieved victory.

Today, I would like to tell our brothers and sisters, men and women, young and old, in the battle of agriculture and industry, we will be where we are required. We will be in this new field.

In other words, we must all become farmers and manufacturers, within the available capabilities. Being a farmer is not shameful. It is a glory and not shameful when our young and old plough the land and cultivate it. Many of the prophets, messengers, and saints throughout history were farmers and peasants grazing sheep, livestock, etc. We have to be farmers not only to save ourselves but also to save our country. We are thinking about all the Lebanese areas and all the Lebanese people. 

Now some may say that Hezbollah is only concerned about its people and its environment. We’re concerned about all Lebanese areas, factions, and people. We are human being with morals and faith. We are nationalists. This is how we think. This is how we think because we are humane. To all my brothers and sisters, this is the new phase we must confront. Wherever we have potential arable land, even a front yard, balconies, and rooftops in Dahiyeh and in cities, we must cultivate it. This is our new battle. 

As for how to agricultural guidance and reducing the cost of production, we will talk about them in future addresses. We have a complete vision on this matter, and we have extended our hand to everyone. 

The same applies to the industrial sector. As I said, we should opt for light homemade products and food products that do not cost much. We have to follow in the footsteps of other people who attained their independence. When we eat what we plant and wear what we manufacture, then we are a people worthy of independence, freedom, dignity, and sovereignty. Here we go back and open the file of the national industry and import from abroad. All these details will come later.

The date 7-7-2020 (Tuesday) is an easy one to remember. Let us say that on this day we want to declare an agricultural and industrial jihad at the popular level. This is not an official decision. In 1988, the resistance in Lebanon was not established by a government or official decision, but rather a popular decision. Today, we should head towards agricultural and industrial jihad, resistance, or renaissance. Call it what you want, we’ll decide on a name later, but this should be our direction.

We should engage in an organized work or individual initiatives. All the Lebanese must cooperate. Popular efforts must also integrate with the efforts of the state to overcome the stage of hunger, the stage of collapse, and the stage of fear and anxiety. We should establish a strategic exit from the coming economic crisis.

The second part: 

Regarding domestic politics, I want to confine myself to one issue that we consider dangerous in Lebanon – the American interference and blatant performance of the State Department in Lebanon, particularly that of the U.S. ambassador to Lebanon.

During the past few months, since Ambassador Shea came to Lebanon – welcome to and to the other ambassadors – we’ve seen the way has been acting in Lebanon – as military governor, a high commissioner, or someone with military authority. She expects everyone in Lebanon to fear her, submit to her, appease to her, listen to her, appease to her, and ask for her approval.  

When we talk about U.S. interference, we can say that they are numerous. As I have mentioned, her movements were clear and blatant. For example, what is the U.S. ambassador’s business with financial appointments. What right does she have in accepting this person and refusing that? This happened, and she spoke with many officials and threatened many others. She demanded that a certain person be appointed deputy governor of the central bank. She also demanded that if this certain person was not appointed deputy governor, then he must be appointed as head of the Banking Control Commission. Some might say that this is not a new thing. 

What is new is that today this matter is being done in the open. All the Lebanese have sensed it. I don’t know what they used to do in the past. Of course, I know. But I don’t have proof. But go ask the officials she spoke to. They’ll tell you the U.S. ambassador told them to appoint specific people and not others as deputy governor of the central bank and if not head of the Banking Control Commission, otherwise the U.S. would withhold funds. Is this how an ambassador should behave? Is this a friendly country or a colonialist country?

This is how a colonialist country acts. Let me give you another example. This might have given some people last week the impression that there will be a change of government and that it will be toppled. This is because they believe and are accustomed to the U.S. being divine. If America said something, then it must be done. 

In the past few days, the U.S. ambassador was quoted by more than one party and person that she said last week that the government is finished, that it must be toppled, and must resign. What is your business? The Lebanese people are the one who determine if the government remains or goes. The Lebanese Parliament determines if the government remains or goes, not the American ambassador or the U.S. State Department. However, she continues to interfere in this issue. She discusses the identity, nature, and composition of the next supposed government. Is this not a blatant interference in Lebanese affairs?

Let me tell you what is more serious and dangerous – the American ambassador appearing on Lebanese, Arab, and non-Arab television channels and attacking a prominent Lebanese party. I do not want to praise Hezbollah and describe its popular, organizational, political and parliamentary size and its impact on the country and the region. Others will talk about this. 

But Hezbollah is a Lebanese party with a huge popular support. It is represented in the parliament and is part of Lebanon’s political life. 

Every day the ambassador attacks Hezbollah, insults it, calls it a terrorist organization, accuses of it stealing and selling drugs, and all this non-sense. Meanwhile, the Lebanese state is silent. However, some politicians, media personnel, and political parties respond to her. But it seems that this lady is comfortable. She sees no problem in insulting, attacking, and offending it on a daily basis.

But what is more dangerous is pitting the Lebanese against each other. The U.S. ambassador is pitting Lebanon’s parties and officials against Hezbollah and its allies, pushing Lebanon towards internal strife and civil war. Should this be met with silence? 

We can add to this the role of the US Embassy in the sanctions, the blockade, the threats, preventing investments in Lebanon, scaring off foreign investors, intimidating the Lebanese officials and government. They are doing this around the clock. This is unacceptable. 

I put this in front of the Lebanese people, all the political forces in Lebanon, the government in Lebanon, and the state in Lebanon, as well as the political forces that claim to be sovereign. An ambassador of country in Lebanon is interfering with appointments, the government, the economic situation, while the Lebanese people are watching. 

Meanwhile, an honorable, brave, patriotic judge made a decision concerning the ambassador’s movement and her dealings with the media. Whether this decision was legitimate or not, constitutional or not, is beside the point. For a Lebanese judge to make such a decision shows that there are honorable and courageous Lebanese judges. The U.S. embassy and the American ambassador were annoyed and demanded an apology from the Lebanese government.

If Lebanon’s ambassador in America spoke about what is happening now in the U.S. and criticized the performance of the Trump administration in dealing with the coronavirus and racism, what would have they done to him? 

We do not want to talk about this issue, but many people stood up to defend freedom of the press in Lebanon. What about Lebanese sovereignty? Defend freedom of the media, but what about Lebanese sovereignty? Are these two things separate? How can freedom and slavery meet? Abandoning sovereignty is slavery. They do not go hand in hand. 

In any case, Judge Mohammad Mazeh made the decision based on his patriotism, awareness, sense of responsibility, and realization that there is an ambassador who is inciting, accusing, insulting, pushes towards sedition, and attacking the Lebanese people.

Personally, because this is the first time I speak after this incident, I am proud of him. We [in Hezbollah] are proud of judge Mohammad Mazeh and in every patriotic, honorable, and brave person who dares in this difficult time to stand in the face of American policies and American administrations because the best kind of jihad is saying the truth in the face of an unjust ruler. 

Today, the most unjust, criminal, terrorist, and brutal ruler on the face of this earth is the American administration. I hope the Lebanese judiciary and the Lebanese Ministry of Justice will reconsider their approach. They should treat this judge and his resignation with the same level of patriotism, honor, courage and respect that he expressed.

Hence, to limit the movement of the ambassador, legal methods must be followed. Great! God willing, the Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc will be submitting a petition to the Lebanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to summon the U.S. ambassador and ask her to adhere to diplomatic protocol and Vienna Convention. Our deputies will do this. We will not ask other deputies. We do not want to put anyone under the spotlight. This is the first step, but it is not enough.

The people in Lebanon also have a responsibility. Politicians and political forces, the Lebanese people, elites, media personnel, young and old, must raise their voice not in the defense of Hezbollah – we do not want anyone to defend us – but to defend Lebanon. They must raise the voice against starving Lebanon, besieging it, pitting the Lebanese people against each other, the pretentious intervention, the imposition of options or wills on the Lebanese people. You have to defend yourself, or else you can let her be.

Also, in this part, I wish that – I am keen to remain within the limits of decency while addressing her – I request that the U.S. ambassador not appear on our TV stations and lecture us and the Lebanese people about democracy, human rights, and sovereignty. Please do not talk about these because you represent a country that has waged wars, killed and displaced millions, the money and natural resources that you have plundered. Your country is still waging wars and killing all over the world.

Not to mention what is going on in the US, the inhumane actions taken against your people, racial discrimination, etc. You do not have any right to talk about human rights in Lebanon and lecture us. You, your country, and your administration. 

Let’s just talk about America’s behavior in Lebanon, backing “Israel” and its wars on Lebanon before 1982 and the invasion in 1982. Tens of thousands of people were killed and wounded, and homes were destroyed.

You protected and supported all of “Israel’s” wars against Lebanon. We are in July. The July 2006 war was an American decision and an American management. The blood of all the men, women, and children killed in the July war is in the hands of your criminal and murderous country that supports “Israel” and defend it. We do not need to prove this. All the Lebanese people know this.

Even regarding the takfiri terrorist organizations, your President, Trump, admits that it was the previous administration of your country that created Daesh and these terrorist organizations in the region. He accuses Clinton. Is Clinton Lebanese? Is Barak Obama Syrian or Palestinian? They are Americans. They were a president and a Secretary of State. They were the ones who created the takfiri terrorists. You are the one supporting the “Israeli” terrorism and are today empower “Israel” in oppressing the Palestinians and usurping the rest of their land in the West Bank. 

So, you have no place saying these words. You should respect yourself, remain respectful, and know your boundaries. America has been exposed to the people of the region. This, of course, I am speaking to her as a representative of her country. Otherwise, this includes the entire State Department and every American administration – all of who are repeating the same thing.

One last advice for the American administration, and it is also good for the ambassador to hear and pass it on to her administration. You are waging a war on Lebanon. You are taking advantage of a circumstance in Lebanon that is a result of 30 to 40 years of accumulations of bad policies that led it to the current economic situation.

All Lebanese know that the economic, financial, monetary, and living conditions in Lebanon are caused by successive policies – corruption, waste, theft, irresponsible management of the situation, local and regional conditions, immigration, wars, etc.

As for pinning the situation in Lebanon on the resistance is something the Lebanese people will not allow. 

The Lebanese people have reached a point where they are saying that is an economic crisis. While you have come to take advantage of this crisis and besiege the Lebanese people to impose options on them. Your most important objective is to isolate and weaken Hezbollah and end the resistance in Lebanon by starving the people and turning the Lebanese and its supporters against it. Wars have failed; the assassinations have failed; “Israel” has failed; the takfiris have failed; and all your efforts have failed. This is the last weapon in your hands.

I would love to advise you not to waste your time. First, this option will not bear fruit. Hezbollah will never surrender. The resistance in Lebanon will never surrender. Second, the policy that you are adopting regarding Lebanon – the blockade and the sanctions – will not weaken Hezbollah but rather strengthen it. 

This policy will weaken your allies and influence. It will not make the resistance’s environment turn against it. Rather its adherence to the resistance will increase. The policy you are adopting will eventually make the rest of the Lebanese groups turn to the resistance and its local and regional allies because it will have no refuge after you push the country to collapse and starvation. With this policy, you are pushing Lebanon to be completely in this axis and with this team. Go and study it well. 

Therefore, I invite you to abandon this policy. Do not torture the Lebanese people and do not punish them. Do not let the Lebanese people endure this ordeal that will not lead to a result. 

In the first place, international law does not allow you to punish an entire people, starve them, and besiege them, as you did with many countries in the world from Syria to Iraq to Iran to Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea, as a means to punish or pressure a specific group. This will not lead to a result. Do not play this game and do not waste time.

The third part:

Regarding the regional part, I will talk briefly because I have already taken up a lot of your time. I apologize. 

The most dangerous thing occurring now is the “Israeli” annexation of lands from the West Bank and the Jordan Valley. The Palestinian people are the only ones standing alone in this confrontation, with all their movements, factions, and forces. We’re in constant contact with the different leadership of the Palestinian resistance factions. 

Yesterday I received a message from the dear brother and head of Hamas’s political bureau, Mr. Ismail Haniyeh. We are in contact with the rest of the leadership. 

What I want to say and call for at the end of this address regarding Lebanon and the countries and peoples of the region is that we must not forget the Palestinian cause despite our worries and the economic and living condition we are in. We must stand by our Palestinian brothers as a state, people, and resistance.

Anything we, the Lebanese state, and the other Lebanese factions alongside our Palestinian brothers can do in confronting this dangerous conspiracy, we must do because the its repercussions not only target Palestine and the Palestinian but also threatens Lebanon. it is known how its most dangerous repercussions will be on Lebanon.

Regionally, everyone must raise their voices, take a stand, be in contact with the Palestinian leaders and Palestinian forces, and cooperate in everything that can happen in the face of the annexation scheme.

Of course, we were like this in the past, but I liked to say today that this matter must be escalated because it is a sensitive, fateful, and historic moment.

Peace and Allah’s mercy and blessing be upon you. 

Related

Iran-China pact turbocharges the New Silk Roads

Source

July 11, 2020

Iran-China pact turbocharges the New Silk Roads

China will invest $400 billion in Iran energy and infrastructure but nothing in strategic pact allows for a Chinese troop presence or island handover

By Pepe Escobar republished from Asia Times by permission of author

Two of the US’s top “strategic threats” are getting closer and closer within the scope of the New Silk Roads – the leading 21st century project of economic integration across Eurasia. The Deep State will not be amused.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi blasted as “lies” a series of rumors about the “transparent roadmap” inbuilt in the evolving Iran-China strategic partnership.

That was complemented by President Rouhani’s chief of staff, Mahmoud Vezi, who said that “a destructive line of propaganda has been initiated and directed from outside Iran against the expansion of Iran’s relations with neighbors and especially (with) China and Russia.”

Vezi added, “this roadmap in which a path is defined for expansion of relations between governments and the private sectors is signed and will continue to be signed between many countries.”

To a great extent, both Mousavi and Vezi were referring to a sensationalist report which did not add anything that was not already known about the strategic partnership, but predictably dog-whistled a major red alert about the military alliance.

The Iran-China strategic partnership was officially established in 2016, when President Xi visited Tehran. These are the guidelines.

Two articles among the 20 listed in the agreement are particularly relevant.

Item 7 defines the scope of the partnership within the New Silk Roads vision of Eurasia integration: “The Iranian side welcomes ‘the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road’ initiative introduced by China. Relying on their respective strengths and advantages as well as the opportunities provided through the signing of documents such as the “MOU on Jointly Promoting the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road’ and ‘MOU on Reinforcement of Industrial and Mineral Capacities and Investment’, both sides shall expand cooperation and mutual investments in various areas including transportation, railway, ports, energy, industry, commerce and services.”

And item 10 praises Iran’s membership of the AIIB: “The Chinese side appreciates Iran’s participation as a ‘Founding Member’ of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank. Both sides are willing to strengthen their cooperation in the relevant areas and join their efforts towards the progress and prosperity of Asia.”

So what’s the deal?

The core of the Iran-China strategic partnership – no secret whatsoever since at least last year – revolves around a $400 billion Chinese investment in Iran’s energy and infrastructure for the next 25 years. It’s all about securing a matter of supreme Chinese national interest: a steady supply of oil and gas, bypassing the dangerous bottleneck of the Strait of Malacca, secured with a median 18% discount, and paid in yuan or in a basket of currencies bypassing the US dollar.

Beijing will also invest roughly $228 billion in Iranian infrastructure – that’s where the AIIB comes in – over 25 years, but especially up to 2025. That ranges from building factories to badly needed energy industry renovation, all the way to the already in progress construction of the 900 km-long electric rail from Tehran to Mashhad.

Tehran, Qom and Isfahan will also be linked by high-speed rail – and there will be an extension to Tabriz, an important oil, gas and petrochemical node and the starting point of the Tabriz-Ankara gas pipeline.

All of the above makes total sense in New Silk Road terms, as Iran is a key Eurasian crossroads. High-speed rail traversing Iran will connect Urumqi in Xinjiang to Tehran, via four of the Central Asian “stans” (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan) all the way to West Asia, across Iraq and Turkey, and further on to Europe: a techno revival of the Ancient Silk Roads, where the main language of trade between East and West across the heartland was Persian.

The terms of aerial and naval military cooperation between Iran and China and also Russia are still not finalized – as Iranian sources told me. And no one has had access to the details. What Mousavi said, in a tweet, was that “there is nothing [in the agreement] about delivering Iranian islands to China, nothing about the presence of military forces, and other falsehoods.”

The same applies to – totally unsubstantiated – speculation that the PLA would be granted bases in Iran and be allowed to station troops in Iranian territory.

Last Sunday, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stressed Iran and China had been negotiating “with confidence and conviction” and there was “nothing secret” about the agreement.

Iranian, Chinese and Russian negotiators will meet next month to discuss terms of the military cooperation among the top three nodes of Eurasia integration. Closer collaboration is scheduled to start by November.

Geopolitically and geoeconomically, the key take away is that the US relentless blockade of the Iranian economy, featuring hardcore weaponized sanctions, is impotent to do anything about the wide-ranging Iran-China deal. Here is a decent expose of some of the factors in play.

The Iran-China strategic partnership is yet another graphic demonstration of what could be deconstructed as the Chinese brand of exceptionalism: a collective mentality and enough organized planning capable of establishing a wide-ranging, win-win, economic, political and military partnership.

It’s quite instructive to place the whole process within the context of what State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi stressed at a recent China-US Think Tanks meeting, attended, among others, by Henry Kissinger:

“One particular view has been floating around in recent years, alleging that the success of China’s path will be a blow and threat to the Western system and path. This claim is inconsistent with facts, and we do not agree with it. Aggression and expansion are never in the genes of the Chinese nation throughout its 5,000 years of history. China does not replicate any model of other countries, nor does it export its own to others. We never ask other countries to copy what we do. More than 2,500 years ago, our forefathers advocated that ‘All living things can grow in harmony without hurting one another, and different ways can run in parallel without interfering with one another’”.

US Attempts to Seize Four Iranian Tankers Headed to Venezuela

Source

US Attempts to Seize Four Iranian Tankers Headed to Venezuela

By Staff, Agencies

US federal prosecutors are seeking to seize four tankers sailing towards Venezuela with gasoline supplied by Iran.

It is the latest attempt to disrupt ever-closer trade ties between the two heavily-sanctioned anti-US allies.

The Trump administration has been stepping up pressure on ship owners to abide by sanctions against US adversaries like Iran, Venezuela and North Korea, Al-Jazeera reported.

In May, Maduro celebrated the arrival of five Iranian tankers delivering much-needed fuel supplies to alleviate shortages that have led to days-long gas lines even in the capital, Caracas, which is normally spared such hardships.

The flotilla’s arrival angered the Trump administration, which struck back by sanctioning the five Iranian captains of the vessels.

The four tankers named in the complaint filed on Wednesday – the Bella, Bering, Pandi and Luna – are currently transporting 1.1 million barrels of gasoline to Venezuela, the report added.

Related News

Sanctions on Hezbollah Are Doomed To Failure; Islamic Economy and Ethics Rule

Source

Sanctions on Hezbollah Are Doomed To Failure; Islamic Economy and Ethics Rule

By Nour Rida

Sanctions on Lebanon in general and Hezbollah in particular are doomed to fail. Trump roars sometimes claiming to impose the harshest batch of sanctions, and shrugs other times when asked by the media about the Middle East, Lebanon, Iran, or even Corona. The best he could do in the current COVID-19 crisis was get a few people killed after advising the consumption of hand sanitizer to protect oneself from the virus. The same shrugs come along with misconception and incorrect answers when he is asked about Lebanon and its resistance movement.

The US ambassador in Lebanon, Dorothy Shea, for her part uses the same old literature of the US administration and dual diplomacy; that of double standards and critical discourse by putting all the blame on the resistance movement that has been preventing ‘Israeli’ attacks on Lebanon and remaining totally silent on all ‘Israeli’ provocations and violations. She attacks the resistance movement and supports US sanctions on Hezbollah and Syria (represented in the Caesar act) and carries out the US non-stop meddling in Lebanese affairs; another Jeffrey Feltman attacking the resistance only without a mustache.

This is America, anyone who expects otherwise is naïve or ill-informed. However, what America should know, or better say “the American government” should know is that no matter how tough the sanctions on Hezbollah get, no matter how much is spent on media campaigns against the resistance movement, and no matter how bad the US government tries to choke the resistance movement and its people, it is doomed to complete failure.

Academic studies can be an interesting source to start the discussion. Some theorists provide empirical  evidence  that  the  imposition  of  sanctions  increases  state-sponsored  repression  and  suggests  that  these  sanctions  contribute  to  worsening  humanitarian conditions of the civilian population. Others find that the imposition of economic   sanctions   curtails   political   and   civil   rights   of   the   citizens,   thereby   resulting   in deteriorating democratic freedom. That can be true; but only in a merely materialistic framework. This does not apply to Lebanon and its people. For those who are not keeping up with the news; Lebanon’s local currency has been deteriorating rapidly. Since October, there has been riots and protests across the country. ‘Israeli’ threats are non-stop and Trump and his surrounding officials keep vowing to choke Hezbollah.

The result of all this propaganda hype and intended pressure is reversed. It is delightful to see that when bakeries were on strike and did not distribute bread to supermarkets for economic reasons and people had to line up to buy bread; bread bags were everywhere for free right on the next day or in wholesale price everywhere especially in the areas where Hezbollah supporters live.

Samer, a young man who volunteered to take the bread and deliver it to some supermarkets and keep the rest on a table at his doorstep for people to take for free told al-Ahed news “This is how we live. The people serve the people. We all support one another when in trouble or in times of hardships.”

Fatima who has been a volunteer with the social groups of Hezbollah for years told al-Ahed news “The tougher it gets the more resilient and creative we get. We provide each other and our society with services at low cost or even through barter. Also a lot of what we do is for free too and in all fields and domains, you just name it.”

Fatima also told al-Ahed news “Oh and by the way, these services are not only limited to the Shiites. Anyone in need can benefit from the services. Since the beginning of the crisis, different NGOs with different religious backgrounds have been helping everyone. This is one of Lebanon’s pretty characteristics, despite political divisions, people from different religious backgrounds try to spread love and peace their own way.”

Propaganda and media reports come with so much reassurance that Trump’s sanctions on Hezbollah threaten Lebanon’s stability. Despite the fact that sanctions can have concrete consequences when they expand and increase, and there will be more impact on the economy but that is momentary. Lebanon has vast rich lands that work quite well for agriculture. With the coming of COVID-19 and the worsening performance of the Lebanese Pound, the Lebanese youth quickly turned to start-ups and small jobs. The thing is, the people of Lebanon are not only thick-skinned when it comes to Trump and his nonsense, but are also steadfast in face of hardships no matter how bad it gets. And when it comes to the resistance movement, there is a huge and steadfast popular platform that would never turn against Hezbollah, keep in mind that the resistance movement along with the army and the people is what preserves Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence.

When we talk about a group of people or a political party, to better know their mindset look at their reference group or ideology. For the Hezbollah supporters, life does not only have one materialistic or capitalist dimension. Money is not everything and human soul is way more important to them. This is called human ethics. The core ideas of Hezbollah are typical to that of the Islamic school of thought resembled by the founder of the Islamic Revolution Imam Khomeini. This is not because Hezbollah decides to be an Iranian follower or proxy as mainstream media keeps propagating; it is rather because they share the same Islamic identity and belong to the same school of thought.

As Imam Khomeini expressed once; “This very economic sanction was a divine blessing, causing the mind of our experts to be set in motion and they are proceeding towards self-sufficiency.”

More into that, Shahid Baker Sadr, who was a Shi’a jurist, exegete of the Qur’an, thinker and also a political activist holds that Islam, through its distribution methods, can regulate the distribution of economic wealth in the best possible way. In the issue of distribution, he considers “oppression” as the fundamental social problem.

These are examples on the Shiite school of thought when it comes to economy and it ought to explain a lot.

It dates back to Islamic history. The main governing principle of the economic notion of Imam Ali (The first governor or Imam of the Shiite faith) is the observance of rights of every person regardless of creed faith and culture and implementation of justice, abstinence and austerity regarding the employees of the government from accumulating illegal wealth, struggle against the rentiers and returning the confiscated estates and properties back to the public treasury, protection of human dignity and observing their sanctity in the society ,social security for the poor and needy whereas these affairs are greatly undermined in today’s governments.

This encapsulates the theory and explanation of the idea of Islamic economy and presents a suitable model for the implementation of justice and struggle against corruption.

This is where Lebanon’s Hezbollah comes from and this is how their people think and act. With such a mindset, no economic sanctions can draw the people or the party weak, and nothing will break them. It is the American administration’s ignorance that leads it to more mistakes and turns the table against it.

In tortured logic, Trump begs for a do-over on the Iran nuclear deal

Source

Written by Tyler Cullis and Trita Parsi

Even the Trump administration seems to grudgingly have concluded that breaching the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) was a mistake. More than two years after the U.S. exit, the deal still stands while the Trump administration is running out of options to force a re-negotiation. It is now so desperate it is seeking to convince the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) that it never quit the deal in the first place. The lesson to the U.S. is clear: Diplomatic vandalism carries costs — even for a superpower. The lesson to a prospective President Joe Biden is more specific: Rejoin the nuclear deal, don’t try to renegotiate it.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claims that UNSC Resolution 2231 defines the term “JCPOA participant” to be inclusive of the United States, and nothing the United States could do or has done can change this supposed legal fact.  According to Pompeo, even though the Trump administration repeatedly referred to its “withdrawal” from the JCPOA as a “cessation of its participation” in the agreement, UNSCR 2231 continues to define the United States as a “JCPOA participant” that can invoke the resolution’s sanctions snapback mechanism. 

The snapback permits a “JCPOA participant” to provide notification to the Security Council of a case of significant non-performance by a party to the agreement, triggering the automatic re-institution of former Security Council sanctions resolutions targeting Iran. No Russian or Chinese veto can prevent the reimposition of the sanctions contained in those resolutions. Only a resolution agreed to within 30 days that would undo the snapback — but the U.S. has the ability to veto such a resolution.

This is why the Obama administration cherished the snapback — if Iran were to renege on its nuclear commitments, the reimposition of sanctions would be swift and automatic. 

But this leverage was lost when Trump abandoned the deal in 2018 (the Presidential memoranda announcing the decision was even titled “Ceasing U.S. Participation in the JCPOA”). A senior Iranian diplomat told us at the time that Tehran was shocked that Trump would forgo this advantage. 

Now Trump is begging for a do-over. Despite the legal debate over Pompeo’s interpretation of UNSCR 2231, Trump’s gambit will prove less a legal question than a political one. The issue is not so much whether the United States remains a “JCPOA participant,” but whether the other members of the Security Council — and most prominently, its permanent members — will recognize the United States as such and allow Trump to issue a reverse veto to ensure the full re-imposition of U.N. sanctions on Iran. 

That is less likely to happen — and for an obvious reason: the Trump administration has spent the last three years squandering any international goodwill towards the United States, abandoning international agreements, strong-arming allies, and cozying up to dictators. It has threatened and cajoled its European allies to abandon legitimate trade with Iran or risk the wrath of punishing U.S. sanctions — all for the purpose of killing a fully functioning nuclear agreement that Europe views as essential to its security. Trump will need the sympathy of Europe’s permanent members to the Security Council. But no sympathy is likely to be forthcoming.

But even if Europe were to succumb to Trump’s pressure, it is unclear what objectives stand to be achieved. If, as Trump and his allies fear, a Biden administration would rejoin the nuclear accord, the snapback of U.N. sanctions is unlikely to pose a significant impediment to doing so, other than raising the cost to the United States for a return to the JCPOA. Nothing would prevent a President Biden to support the immediate reinstitution of UNSCR 2231. 

The danger, instead, is that Iran, having witnessed the malicious use of the snapback, will demand that any future resolution drop the snapback procedure. Considering that Iran will be weighing the merits of leaving the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and terminating its safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as a result of the U.N. snapback, the Biden administration would likely be forced to choose between eating that cost or escalating militarily against Iran in its first months in office. 

This underscores the real reason for Trump’s move: the U.S. is out of leverage when it comes to Iran. While U.S. sanctions have decimated Iran’s economy, they have not forced Iran to accede to Trump’s demands. Iran has neither begged for talks nor abandoned the JCPOA. Its posture remains essentially the same, immune to Trump’s best efforts to cause it to lash out to international approbation. 

Though immense pain, Iran has sapped the U.S. of its leverage while keeping its own intact. Tehran can (and has) scale back its commitments to the JCPOA in response to Trump’s actions, it can abandon the JCPOA or even withdraw from the NPT and terminate its safeguards agreement with the IAEA. These, and other options, remain in Iran’s arsenal, unused for the time being but ready to be deployed should the U.S. continue on its path of diplomatic vandalism. 

This is why Biden must dispel with any illusion that he can seek a renegotiation of the JCPOA on the back of Trump’s sanctions. If a Biden administration were to signal to Tehran that it will not seek a clean return to the JCPOA, then Iran will begin using the leverage it has kept in store.

If Trump succeeds in snapping back U.N. sanctions, Biden would not even be able to leverage the risk to Iran in international isolation, as Iran would be already isolated internationally by virtue of the U.N. sanctions. Biden’s sole recourse would be to threaten war with Iran — a terrible prospect for an incoming administration that will be fighting off a deadly pandemic, resuscitating a depressed economy, and operating under the promise of being different from Trump.

Trump overplayed his hand by thinking he could renegotiate the nuclear deal and is now begging for a do-over. Candidate Biden should take note and signal clearly already now that he does not intend to repeat this mistake.

Nasrallah: Syria triumphs, Israel is waging an imaginary war

Source

Date: 26 June 2020

Author: lecridespeuples

Speech by Hezbollah Secretary General Sayed Hassan Nasrallah on May 13, 2020, on the occasion of the commemoration of the martyrdom of Hezbollah Commander Mostapha Badreddine, known as ‘Zulfiqar’, killed in Syria in May 2016.

Source 

Translation: resistancenews.org

Summary:

  • Syria has already won the war, even if there are still some minor battles to be fought
  • Having failed militarily, the enemies of Syria strive doubly hard in their diplomatic, economic and psychological warfare
  • There is no dissension between the allies of Damascus, nor a struggle for influence between Iran and Russia
  • News of Bashar al-Assad being sidelined is just propaganda
  • There are no Iranian armed forces in Syria, just military cadres and advisers
  • Having bet everything on the terrorists, Israel sees its defeat and fears the recovery of Syria and the threat it will pose to the occupation of the Golan and the very existence of the Zionist entity
  • The so-called Israeli campaign against the Iranian presence in Syria is nothing but window dressing aimed at reassuring Israeli opinion and providing cover for attacks on the Syrian ballistic power
  • Israel presents as a victory a simple redeployment of forces due to successive victories over almost the entire Syrian territory, and a reduction in air movements between Iran and Syria due to the coronavirus
  • Iran, Hezbollah and other Resistance movements will never leave Syria
  • Israeli incursions into Syria are caused by worry, fear and adventurism, but can lead to uncontrolled escalation and regional war

This video only subtitles the last section of the transcript below, ‘Israel in Syria

Transcript:

Syria won the world war against it

[…] Today we can say that Syria won this war. In previous battles, when great achievements were made, such as after the liberation of Homs, Damascus, the South and even Aleppo, it was said that Syria had won the war, and analysts and specialists in strategic issues said no: Syria had won one (or more) battles, but had not (yet) won the war. Because a war is made of many battles: you can win a battle, lose another, win a third, lose the fourth, but all that does not (necessarily) mean that the whole war is won, or that the whole war is lost.

Today, in all simplicity, and via an objective and genuine assessment (of the situation), whoever goes to Syria and travels there —except for the politicized Arab (and Western) media—, whoever goes to Syria, in its provinces, in its cities, in its villages and boroughs, in all the regions currently in the hands of the State, anyone who observes the overall situation in Syria can easily affirm that Syria won the war, although there are still some battles going on. It should not be said that Syria has won one, two or three battles, and has lost one or two others, and that the war is still going on, without it being clear whether Syria will win it or not, no. The fair and accurate strategic assessment is that the Syrian leaders, the Syrian army, the Syrian State and the great majority of the Syrian people who stood firm in this struggle won this war.

Of course, there are still a few battles left, military or political, which require persistence and continuity of action, whether in Idlib, East of the Euphrates or certain areas North of Syria, but this is only a partial, limited and circumscribed part (of Syria). Syria has triumphed over partition projects, Syria has won this war, and suffice it to say that the objectives of this world war (against Syria) for which, according to their own admission, hundreds of billions of Arabian dollars have been spent —the dollar is American, but it is the Arab (countries) that have paid the bills; if this money had been spent for the good of the Arab peoples of our region, they would have extricated them from ignorance, poverty, misery, illiteracy, diseases, and the said funding countries (Saudi Arabia, etc. ) would not face financial incapacity in the face of the economic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic as they do now—, thousands of tons of weapons and ammunition, tens of thousands of terrorists and takfiris who were brought from all over the world, dozens of international conferences, etc., etc., etc. They have deployed everything, done everything, absolutely everything, to achieve their objective in Syria: sectarian or political slogans, incitement (to racial or religious hatred), everything that the front of Arrogance (imperialism) and its instruments were able to mobilize in terms of resources and ideology, everything they could do against Syria, they did. And Syria, through the perseverance of its leaders, its army, its people and the State, and thanks to the presence and perseverance of its allies by its side, managed to win this war.

And that is why today, when we talk about our martyr leader, Sayed Mustapha Badreddine, and our other martyrs in Syria, we feel, in addition to the consequences for their afterlife and their (eminent) position close to God the Most High and the Exalted as martyrs, we have the feeling that their blood has borne fruit and enabled these results to be achieved, and that the objective for which they went to fight and for which they sacrificed their blood, their peace and their life, and for which they made unremitting efforts night and day, this goal was achieved and it is before our eyes today.

Economic, diplomatic & psychological warfare

I will now raise some points (concerning Syria). The first point is that naturally, what (the enemies of Syria) have been unable to achieve militarily, they have been trying for the past few years to obtain it politically, through political pressure on the Syrian leaders, on the allies of Syria, on Iran, on Russia, on those who stand alongside Syria, through international relations, through the UN Security Council, through intimidation, threats and tempting promises, so that the allies of Damascus will abandon Syria. But all of this has failed so far. And we know that sometimes the political battle is just as intense as the armed struggle. And sometimes its dangers are even greater, and require all of our vigilance and attention. Syria is still plunged into political war and is facing political pressures which, so far, have failed to achieve any of their goals.

Naturally, and I come to the second point, after the failure of the military war and the impotence and the ineffectiveness of the political war and the political pressures in achieving any objective at all, the front of Arrogance (imperialism), the American despots and their Allies resorted to other means, namely psychological warfare on the one hand, and sanctions and blockade on the other. With regard to psychological warfare, a very broad front has been open for years against Syria, and lately there has been an intensification of psychological warfare, some aspects of which I will touch on in a moment. Likewise, the sanctions and the state of siege against Syria are increasing, and they are betting on the economic consequences (which they hope get unbearable for Syria and its allies). The coronavirus has added to these pressures, but this pandemic is not specific to Syria: the pressures of the coronavirus are weighing on the whole world. Today, those who besiege Iran, Syria, Venezuela and other countries, Gaza, Yemen, etc., are starting to suffer the economic consequences of the coronavirus themselves. We have all seen the catastrophe hitting the United States, the countries of Western Europe, as well as certain countries in our region (Saudi Arabia, etc.). In any event, it is also a means of attacking Syria, namely economic pressures, sanctions, the state of siege against Syria.

With regard to the sanctions and the blockade, we place our hopes on the endurance of the Syrian leaders, the Syrian State and the Syrian people, just as they persevered in the face of the military and political war. What gives us hope is that Syria is a country endowed with human capital and colossal possibilities; the Syrian people are full of liveliness, the wealth and innate means of Syria are many and huge. Before the crisis, Syria was not a debt-ridden or weak country, nor was it a country brimming with wealth, but its economy was entirely viable. In some Arab countries, millions of people live in cemeteries, but no family lived in a cemetery in Syria. Anyway, in the economic battle, the livelihood battle, the financial battle, we have good hope in the endurance and initiative of Syria, just as we trust Syria to succeed against the psychological battle.

Tensions between Syria’s allies ?

With regard to the psychological battle, I would like to give an example, before addressing my last point concerning Syria. Part of the psychological battle concerns the situation of the allies, and we often hear that the allies of Damascus have started to abandon Syria. (According to these rumors), Iran would be entangled in its internal situation and would prepare to abandon Syria. Russia, because of the pressures, its internal situation, such pressures or such problems or I don’t know what other rubbish, would abandon Syria. All these words express only dreams and hopes that we have been hearing for years, and some have been disseminated as if they were information, etc., but they were only aspirations (US / Israeli / Saudi wishful thinking).

Among the talking points of the current psychological warfare, let us quote again the recurrent remarks that we find in the media of the Gulf and certain Western media —the Western media are more reluctant to diffuse these reports, because they try to preserve the (little) credibility they still have— about an Iranian-Russian power struggle in Syria. There is no hint of truth in it. I said at the beginning of my speech that I was going to talk about Iran again. In the two points that remain for me to address (on Syria), I will clearly point out certain sensitive points which concern the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Neither the Islamic Republic of Iran, nor Hezbollah, nor the Resistance factions from different countries —Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc. ; yes, Resistance movements came from these countries and fought in Syria alongside the Syrian Arab Army, the Syrian people and the Syrian popular forces, and are still present there… The Islamic Republic of Iran is not fighting for influence against anyone in Syria. Neither against Russia —regardless of what Russia is doing— nor against anyone. The position of the Islamic Republic in Syria was clear from the beginning: its (only) goal was to prevent the fall of Syria under American-Israeli control, and under the control of the instruments of Arrogance (imperialism), our common enemy. This was Iran’s goal, and nothing else. The Islamic Republic does not seek any influence in Syria, it has no aims and no greed in Syria, and has no desire to interfere in the internal affairs of Syria. Iranian interference in Syria has never existed, does not exist and will never exist with regard to internal Syrian issues, whether in the form of the regime, government, laws, the State… Iran will never do anything that some other States (especially the imperialist and neo-colonialist West) do, in any case. All that mattered and still matters for the Islamic Republic of Iran is that Syria remains in its (pro-) Arab, (pro-) Islamic, (pro-) Resistance position, that it preserves its identity, its independence, its sovereignty, its unity, that Syria remains a noble and dignified, persevering fortress, does not submit to American and Zionist hegemony, and does not compromise on its rights (over the Golan). This is all that Iran wants in Syria, no more no less. And that does not enter into any struggle for influence with anyone.

Certainly, to be completely frank and sincere, there may be differences between the allies as regards the definition of certain military or ground priorities, political questions, at the level of negotiations, etc. But this in no way leads to a struggle for influence, because the decisions of the Islamic Republic are categorical as regards the position alongside the Syrian leaders (who have the final say on all matters), Iran complying with what they determine and accept. The Islamic Republic has a position of support towards the endurance, the persistence, the maintenance and the independence of Syria, and its resilience in the face of projects of hegemony and control over it, and of liquidation of the Axis of Resistance in the region. In this regard, I would therefore like to reassure the masses & supporters of the Resistance in the Arab-Islamic world: in Syria, there is no struggle for influence between Iran and Russia, so we could say that the front of the allies and supporters of Damascus is plagued by internal strife or is in withdrawal. This is absolutely not true.

Israel in Syria

The other point I also wanted to talk about concerning Syria and Iran in Syria, and the Israeli enemy in Syria, is the Israeli aggressions and the Israeli project in Syria. Especially in the past few weeks, the Zionist Israeli Minister of War (Naftali Bennett) is trying to brag and present (false victories) to the Israeli masses, lying to them and misleading them, and also to the public opinion in the Arab-Muslim world —and there are also Arab media that spread these lies and falsifications—, in order to highlight the imaginary victories and achievements of Israel in Syria at the expense of Syria, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Axis of Resistance. I want to talk about it a bit, and it may be the first time that I do it in such a frank and detailed way, even if it will be synthetic.

During the first years (of the war in Syria), from 2011, Israel bet on the (terrorist) armed groups. The relations of the armed groups —especially in the south of Syria— with Israel are absolutely undeniable: exchange of information, financing, supplies, medical care, aid and support of all kinds, up to transit, all this is well known and obvious. Israel has been active in the war in Syria since 2011, and has counted & invested heavily on those who fight the regime in Syria. Israel had a whole set of objectives, the highest of which was the fall of the regime and the liquidation of the current administration (of Bashar al-Assad). But there were several other lesser goals.

When this war against Syria failed, and the Zionists understood that their instruments and the horse on which they had bet had failed in Syria, and that they had lost the war… They are still fighting in Syria, but they lost the war, as I just explained. The proof is that all of southern Syria, the vast majority of which was under the control of armed groups, which cooperated with Israel, was assisted by Israel and were Israel’s allies both openly and secretly, they all left, and some left Syria via the Zionist entity. We don’t forget their buses at night.

The Israelis therefore understood that their objective (to bring down the regime) had failed. They therefore aimed at a new objective, namely to fight against a new danger which appears to them, new dangers which will emanate from the situation and the victory in Syria. What are these new dangers? Some reside in the Syrian Arab forces themselves, in the Syrian army and in the Syrian military capabilities, especially with regard to ballistic capability and the manufacture of precision missiles. And that’s why we see that Israel is attacking everything related to the production of missiles in Syria, because he considers that the ballistic capacity and the manufacture of missiles constitute a (enormous) force for Syria, and obviously also for the Axis of Resistance.

Israel therefore considers Syria as a future threat, Syria which has stood firm during all these years in the face of a universal war waged against it: if Damascus regains its strength and regains its health, and develops its military, human and material capabilities, this will give Syria prevalence in the region and in the Arab-Israeli struggle. Therefore, Israel considers Syria as a threat, a future threat: Syria may not be a current threat, because it remains entangled in its internal situation and the few battles that remain to be fought. Likewise, Israel views the presence of Iran and Resistance factions in Syria as a threat. Israel is worried about Syria, Israel is afraid. Israel is terrified of what the future holds for it in Syria. This is the true description of the situation.

So look at the way Israeli officials express themselves about the Golan Heights, claiming that in southern Syria, for example, Hezbollah has a certain presence and a certain activity, and is trying to create a structure (of Resistance), with the help, silence or complicity of the Syrian authorities, cooperating with young Syrians (combatants) in order to recover the Golan and attack the Israeli occupation in the Golan. And all this while nothing important has happened yet. But this simple assumption, this simple fact created an atmosphere of terror within the Zionist entity, and sometimes pushes it to escalation measures which can lead to unforeseen and dramatic consequences (an open regional war). This indicates that Israel behaves towards Syria from a position of worry, fear and terror in the face of the consequences of the great victory in Syria. You have to keep that in mind in the first place.

Israel has therefore announced a goal in Syria. He cannot declare that he strikes Syria and the Syrian army, even if that is what he is doing concretely. Israel has therefore announced a goal linked to the Iranian presence in Syria, and the presence of Hezbollah, even if he insists above all on the Iranian presence. So they launched a campaign under the slogan “We want to expel Iran from Syria.” And their stupidity is such that it prompted the Israeli Minister of War, Naftali Bennett, to go so far as to set a timetable, promising that before the end of 2020, he would have ended the Iranian presence in Syria. So remember this deadline and count the months that we have before the end of the year to see what will happen to the promise of this stupid minister.

Israel has therefore worked to achieve this goal. What did they do, apart from the international, regional and domestic incitement, and the attempt to present the Iranian presence in Syria —which I will describe in detail— as having gone from a factor of assistance to a burden for Syria, which is a gross lie? They began with airstrikes and air operations which occasionally hit means of transport, warehouses or certain locations in Syria. This has been happening for years, and I never talked about it (in detail).

What is new? The new thing is that Israel goes astray, tricks its people and deceives the opinion in our region (and in the world) —and we are always fighting this battle to raise public awareness by revealing the truth—, trying to present certain details like the proofs of his victory in Syria and the beginning of the defeat of the Axis of Resistance or the Islamic Republic of Iran, the beginning of our exit and withdrawal (from Syria).

What are the clues and evidence that Israel puts forward? For several weeks, certain Israeli officials, media and analysts have been propagating these statements, even if other Israeli analysts say that these statements are inaccurate and just for show —and the latter are the ones who are right. Israel has spoken of several points (put forward as evidence of an Iranian withdrawal from Syria):

1/ the number of troops: the “Iranian (armed) forces”, to use their expression, would have greatly decreased in Syria;

2/ certain bases that have been evacuated, returned (to the Syrian authorities) or abandoned;

3/ the concentration of efforts on eastern Syria and the presence in the region of al-Boukamal, Deir Ezzor, etc.

The conclusion of all of this, (if we are to believe the Zionist enemy), is that the result of intelligence operations, military actions and aerial bombardments carried out by Israel, have largely fulfilled their objectives: Iran would leave Syria, the Iranians would be in full withdrawal, Hezbollah would retreat, and this moron (Bennett) believes he achieved an historic exploit which he trumpets  at every occasion, predicting the full achievement of this objective before the end of 2020. Just see how he spreads these lies and fools public opinion.

Let me show you the real situation. First, regarding the situation on the ground, Israel keeps talking about the presence of “Iranian (armed) forces”, but in Syria there have only been Iranian military advisers and experts since 2011. I would like to say that they were present even before 2011 alongside the Syrian Arab Army and alongside the Resistance in Lebanon (Hezbollah), and after 2011, they remained, and due to the events, their number increased. But there are no Iranian military forces in Syria. When we talk about Iranian military forces, we mean one or more battalions, one or more units, legions, etc. That is what we are referring to when we talk about the armed forces.

There are a number of military advisers and experts in Syria, the number of which has increased with the events (since 2011). They had and still have a very important role:

1/ providing support and advice to the Syrian armed forces;

2/ managing groups of Syrian, Arab and Islamic popular forces which they train, arm and lead in the various battles in progress;

3/ coordinating operations with Resistance movements, including Hezbollah;

4/ coordinating the logistical support operations provided by the Iranian defense ministry to the Syrian defense ministry.

These Iranian advisers are not Iranian (armed) forces. It is not an Iranian armed presence.

You see, the Israelis announced a nonexistent, illusory, imaginary goal, similar to the objective of successive American administrations to prevent Iran from manufacturing nuclear weapons, while the Iranians do not have nuclear weapons and do not want to obtain nuclear weapons. In Syria, Israel is waging an imaginary battle to prevent Iranian forces from being present in Syria. While in Syria there are only Iranian military advisers and military experts. Despite all the difficulties, the situation in Syria in no way requires the arrival of Iranian (armed) forces in Syria.

To be frank and honest, at one point, a real discussion took place on this subject with the Iranian leaders, and at one point, for a few months, certain Iranian armed forces came to Aleppo, for 2 or 3 months. But apart from this exceptional case, there have never been Iranian forces in Syria, and I say and repeat that there are only advisers, in the number required by the situation: there may be more or less according to the needs of the field, and many of them fell martyrs —some could put forward this argument as proof of an armed presence; but it’s because these advisers were on the front lines alongside the Syrian Arab Army and Resistance factions, fighting and participating in battles, in the manner of the school of their commander of the al-Quds Forces, the martyr Qassem Soleimani, may God the Most High be pleased with him. This is therefore the real and precise description of the situation.

Secondly, naturally, as the battles were won, whether for the Iranians or the factions of the Resistance, and sometimes even for the Syrian army, when the battle or the threat ended in a region, there was no longer any reason to maintain a presence of combatants or military bases, nor our positions on combat axes and front lines. At one time, the fighting was taking place (simultaneously) in Homs, in the rif of Damascus, in Damascus, in the East of Homs, in the suburbs of Aleppo and in Aleppo itself, in Idlib, in the south of Syria, Badiya, al-Boukamal, Deir Ezzor, etc. It was therefore natural to have a presence (of the armed forces) in all these regions. While on the coast, there were no battles, and there was therefore no reason to have this presence.

When the province of Homs was liberated, this presence ceased. Same thing when the battles in Damascus and in the rif of Hama ended, as well as in southern Syria, in Palmyra and in the Badiya. If the Syrian army, of which it is the country, wanted to maintain a certain presence in certain barracks, to take the necessary precautions (to face a possible resurgence of the terrorists), that made sense; but as for the auxiliary forces, whether Iranians, Hezbollah or other factions of the Resistance, it is quite natural that they left this region, maintaining only the minimum of personnel, of combatants and of material there as a precaution. There would have been no reason to maintain the same number of forces, the same bases, etc.

For about two years, when this victory became clear, especially after the liberation of the Badiya and the opening of the highway to Aleppo, and the end of the battle in Damascus, in the rif of Damascus and in the south, the (Syrian & allied) forces gathered (in the last places of activity of the terrorists). The presence of many Iranian advisers was no longer required, and so they returned to Iran. Likewise for a number of Hezbollah fighters and cadres in Syria, whose presence was no longer useful, so they returned to Lebanon. Many of our Iraqi brothers and other nationalities were no longer required, so they returned home.

The situation in Syria having become very good, (what would have been the point of maintaining all this presence)? Some bases and barracks have always remained empty, and had been prepared in case there was a need for additional manpower. Many bases and barracks were no longer useful because there were no more fights, and were therefore abandoned. It all started two years ago or more, and has nothing to do with Israeli operations and attacks in Syria. It has nothing to do with the Israeli strikes in Syria. And that has nothing to do with the martyrdom of brother commander Hajj Qassem Soleimani. It started under his leadership, and the current leadership of the Al-Quds Forces (IRGC) continues the same program it began operating over two years ago.

Likewise, Hezbollah and the rest of the factions of the Resistance have started to do the same for more than two years, namely to decrease the troops, decrease the number of (active) bases, decrease the presence, because Syria begins to recover, Syria has won, the Syrian Arab Army has won, many frontlines no longer exist, the battles having been definitively won there. This is the truth.

Today, when anyone talks about a downsizing of foreign forces in Syria… Let me give you an example for Lebanon. At some point I announced that on the whole axis of Qalamoun, we ended our presence (that used to be massive), keeping only one or two positions. Same thing for the whole axis of Zabadani. All was done in coordination with the Syrian army. Is this an Israeli success? Or is this fact explained because the Syrian army and the Resistance won all the battles in these regions, as well as in the rif of Damascus, in the rif of Homs, etc. What would be the point, once the fighting is over, of staying on the mountains, in the cold, in the heat, what good is it to mobilize and use resources, etc. All that would be useless, it would be a waste of material and human resources. When the fighting is over, all we have to do is pack up and return to our main front, namely southern Lebanon (facing Israel).

The pseudo-evidence put forward by Israel today, namely the issue of the reduction of troops in Syria, the total or partial evacuation of certain places, bases or positions, this is only due to the fact that the presence there would no longer make any sense, as for example in Damascus or around Damascus, where the fighting has stopped. It is quite natural that the military presence should go to al-Boukamal, Deir Ezzor, Aleppo, Idlib, because the front lines are there, and there is no more fighting elsewhere. The remaining battles are there, so those who want to help must go there and not sit (arms crossed) in Damascus.

The pseudo-evidence advanced by Israel in no way proves Israeli successes, but proves the victory of Syria, the victory of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the victory of Hezbollah, the victory of the Axis of Resistance in Syria. This victory in the war involves, as with any army and any military force in the world, a redeployment of forces in accordance with new responsibilities and new challenges, in the light of our achievements and victories.

More so, a sign of the imbecility and lies of the Israeli media is that they have tried to explain the fact that for example, lately, the movements between Syria and Iran have decreased somewhat —air freight, the movement of airplanes—, and this has also been put forward as evidence of the Israeli military successes in Syria, while these claims are nothing but lies and falsifications. The cause is the coronavirus. The covid-19 which impacted the US military, European armies, and even the army of the Israeli enemy itself, which canceled maneuvers, training, and large military parades planned to celebrate the anniversary of the victory of 1945, and it is only natural that the pandemic also affects Syria, the Islamic Republic, ourselves and everyone.

To summarize this point, by way of synthesis before evoking the internal situation in Lebanon in the minutes that I have left, I would like to address the Israeli public to invite them to check their information and not to believe the lies of their leaders, who put forward imaginary victories in Syria, whether against Syria or against Iran. Admittedly, Syria suffers prejudice, just as Iranian advisers, Hezbollah and the Resistance in Syria are affected by the Israeli aggressions, which the Syrian, Iranian and Resistance leaders consider as they should —I don’t have time to speak in detail about our point of view on the issue, I will do it another time if necessary—, but the Israelis need to know that what their leaders are saying is only lies, deception and illusions, purely imaginary achievements. And if Israel continues on this path, they can make a mistake or a blunder that would blow up the whole region.

As for the announced objective, namely to expel the Iranian presence —the military advisers, and not the pseudo Iranian forces, as I explained— or even to expel Hezbollah and the Resistance from Syria, this objective will never be achieved, o Zionists. This objective will never be achieved. These advisers are present following a joint decision by Syria and Iran, and the Resistance movements are present at the request of the Syrian leaders and in accordance with the will of the Resistance movements themselves, and all those who, since 2011 to date, have sacrificed thousands of martyrs and suffered thousands of injuries, will not be defeated or deterred by an air strike or an assassination here and there. They will remain firmly on their positions, and will not abandon the battlefield or the place under any circumstances. This goal is unachievable.

These are just illusions that you live in your imagination; you are engaging in sheer adventurism, and at any moment, you can make a serious error in Syria that you will regret bitterly. […]

See also:

Malcolm X about race, crime and police brutality: ‘You can’t be a Negro in America and not have a criminal record’

Khamenei: George Floyd’s murder mirrors what the United States did to the world

Donate as little as you can to support this work and subscribe to the Newsletter to get around censorship.

“Any amount counts, because a little money here and there, it’s like drops of water that can become rivers, seas or oceans…” Hassan Nasrallah

صيف ساخن بين “قيصر” والكيان

د. عمران زهوي

القطب الأوحد وسيّد العالم كما يقدّم نفسه حاول فرض شروطه وإملاءاته على إيران، ففوجئ بدولة تتمرّد وتغرّد خارج السرب، فتيقّن أنّ إيران ليست كالدول العربية أو غيرها ممن ينصاعون بالكلمة للأميركي، فسقطت أغلى وأهمّ طائرة أميركية مُسيّرة، ثم تبعتها الهيمنة على المضيق وفرض الشروط الإيرانية، وصولاً الى ضرب قاعدة “عين الأسد”، وأخيراً وليس آخراً فكّ الحصار عن فنزويلا وعن سورية.

اختلّ توازن ترامب ليخسر بالنقاط، وانكسرت شوكته في غرب آسيا والمحور.

فحاول الأميركي النزول إلى الحلبة مجدّداً بيده أسلحة ستقوّض المحور وتجوّع شعوبه وقواعده الشعبية عبر الحصار الاقتصادي، رامياً كلّ ما في جعبته، معتقداً أنّ “قيصر” هو السيف الذي سيقطع به رأس المحور، فانبرى له رأس الحربة في المحور مفاجئاً بهجوم سيسجله التاريخ قائلاً إننا هنا… نمسك رغيف الخبز بيد والبندقية باليد الأخرى و”سنقتلكم”.

رامياً أحجيات على الامبرالية الصهيوأميركيه أن تحلها علّها تنجو أو تتفادى الزلزال الآتي…؟!

انهمك المحللون والتابعون والخائفون حتى طال التخبّط سفيرة أميركا في لبنان لتردّ بالمباشر على خطاب رأس الحربة (وهي سابقه في التاريخ).

لا شك انّ المهزوم هو من يسعى بأيّ وسيلة لكي يردّ اعتباره، والمنتصر هو الذي يذكّر بأنه قادر على القتل مرة أخرى حتى الوصول إلى الهدف المنشود.

فجاءت النصيحة من السفير الروسي لدى الكيان بأنّ عقوبات “قيصر” على سورية وخطّة ضمّ أراض واسعة من الضّفة الغربيّة المُزمع البدء بتنفيذها الشهر المقبل، وضمّ غور الأردن، كلها خطوات ستكون لها تداعيات خطيرة جداً على “إسرائيل” نفسها، مُسدياً نصائح لرئيس حكومة العدو ولقادة تل أبيب، بالتوقّف مليّاً وباهتمام أمام رسائل السيد نصرالله، وتجنّب أيّ استفزاز جوّي جديد ضدّ سورية “لأنّ هذه المرحلة مختلفة تماماً”.

هذه الرسائل لا تعني فقط إسقاط طائرات إسرائيلية، وإنما هي الوجبه الدسمة التي ستنزل صواعق في الصندوقة الانتخابية الأميركية وستؤدّي إلى زلزال سيطيح بترامب في السباق الرئاسي هو وصول توابيت جنوده إما من الشمال السوري أو من العراق أو من دول الخليج التي تحمل على أرضها القواعد العسكرية الأميركية، والتي هي كلها تحت مرمى الصواريخ البالستية وتحت وطأة أقدام المقاتلين الأشداء لهذا المحور…

وعند اندلاع الانتفاضة الفلسطينية المقبلة التي لن تشبه مثيلاتها بوجود هذا المحور الذي لن يقف مكتوف الأـيدي، خاصة بعدما انكشف المخطط الداخلي اللبناني الذي كان يحاول خلق الفتنة والتجييش والمطالبة بسحب سلاح المقاومة من قبل قطيع الغنم الذي يديرونه، وقبيل الانتخابات السورية العام المقبل، والتلويح من الأمين العام للأمم المتحدة أنطونية غوتيريش بتعديل مهام قوات اليونفيل في لبنان (أيّ يقصد توسيع صلاحياتها لتشمل الحدود السورية اللبنانية.

فالواضح انّ قانون قيصر والقوانين كلها ستكون وبالاً وبلاء على الطفل المدلل (الكيان الغاصب). فالمقاومة وسورية وحلفاؤهما قرّروا اللعب فوق الطاولة وقلب هذه الطاولة على “الإسرائيليّ”، والنّفاذ من خلال ذلك للقضاء على حرب التجويع الجديدة والإنتصار عليها وعلى كلّ مَن شارك أو يشارك فيها.

بناء على كلّ ما تقدّم أكاد أجزم بأنّ الأسابيع المقبلة ستكون حافلة بالتطورات المفاجئة والمتلاحقة في المنطقة، ستُتوّج بإنجاز “استراتيجي” غير مسبوق للمقاومة سيجبر ترامب وإدارته على اتخاذ قرار مفاجئ بمنزلة “هدف ذهبي” لصالح سورية ولبنان، ويشكّل باكورة مفاجآت محور المقاومة في الحرب الإقتصادية المفروضة عليهم.

من هنا شكراً “قانون قيصر” لأنك ستجبر المحور أن يغيّر قواعد اللعبة وأن يكشر عن أنيابه باكراً ليغرسها في أعناق “الإسرائيلي” وترامب على حدّ سواء.

Why Iran won’t be broken

June 26, 2020

Why Iran won’t be broken

Submitted by Pepe Escobar – source Asia Times

So what’s goin’ on in Iran? How did the Islamic Republic really respond to Covid-19? How is it coping with Washington’s relentless “maximum pressure”?

These questions were the subject of a long phone call I placed to Prof. Mohammad Marandi of the University of Tehran – one of Iran’s premier, globally recognized analysts.

As Marandi explains, “Iran after the revolution was all about social justice. It set up a very elaborate health care network, similar to Cuba’s, but with more funding. A large hospital network. When the coronavirus hit, the US was even preventing Iran to get test kits. Yet the system – not the private sector – managed. There was no full shutdown. Everything was under control. The numbers – even contested by the West – they do hold. Iran is now producing everything it needs, tests, face masks. None of the hospitals are full.”

Expanding Marandi’s observations, Tehran-based journalist Alireza Hashemi notes, “Iran’s wide primary healthcare system, comprising public clinics, health houses and health centers is available in thousands of cities and villages”, and that enabled the government to “easily offer basic services”.

As Hashemi details, “the Health Ministry established a Covid-19 call center and also distributed protective equipment supplied by relief providers. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei ordered the armed forces to help – with the government deploying 300,000 soldiers and volunteers to disinfect streets and public places, distribute sanitizers and masks and conduct tests.”

It was the Iranian military that established production lines for producing face masks and other equipment. According to Hashemi, “some NGOs partnered with Tehran’s chamber of commerce to create a campaign called Nafas (“breath”) to supply medical goods and provide clinical services. Iran’s Farabourse, an over-the-counter stock market in Tehran, established a crowd funding campaign to purchase medical devices and products to help health workers. Hundreds of volunteer groups – called “jihadi” – started producing personal protective equipment that had been in short supply in seminaries, mosques and hussainiyas and even natural fruit juices for health workers.”

This sense of social solidarity is extremely powerful in Shi’ite culture. Hashemi notes that “the government loosened health-related restrictions over a month ago and we have been experiencing a small slice of normality in recent weeks.” Yet the fight is not over. As in the West, there are fears of a covid-19 second wave.

Marandi stresses the economy, predictably, was hurt: “But because of the sanctions, most of the hurt had already happened. The economy is now running without oil revenue. In Tehran, you don’t even notice it. It’s nothing compared to Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Turkey or the UAE. Workers from Pakistan and India are leaving the Persian Gulf in droves. Dubai is dead. So, in comparison, Iran did better in dealing with the virus. Moreover, harvests last year and this year have been positive. We are more self-reliant.”

Hashemi adds a very important factor: “The Covid-19 crisis was so massive that people themselves have pitched in with effort, revealing new levels of solidarity. Individuals, civil society groups and others have set up a range of initiatives seeking to help the government and health workers on the front line of countering the pandemic.”

What a relentless Western disinformation campaign always ignores is how Iran after the revolution is used to extremely critical situations, starting with the eight-year-long Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. Marandi and Hashemi are adamant: for older Iranians, the current economic crisis pales in comparison with what they had to put up with throughout the 1980s.

Made in Iran soars

Marandi’s analysis ties up the economic data. In early June, Mohammad Bagher Nobakht – responsible for planning Iran’s state budgets – told the Majlis (Parliament) that the new normal was “to sideline oil in the economy and run the country’s programs without oil.”

Nobakht stuck to the numbers. Iran had earned just $8.9 billion from the sale of oil and related products in 2019-20, down from a peak of $119 billion less than a decade ago.

The whole Iranian economy is in transition. What’s particularly interesting is the boom in manufacturing – with companies focusing way beyond Iran’s large domestic market towards exports. They are turning the massive devaluation of the rial to their advantage.

In 2019-20, Iran’s non-oil exports reached $41.3 billion. That exceeded oil exports for the first time in Iran’s post-revolutionary history. And roughly half of these non-oil exports were manufactured goods. Team Trump’s “maximum pressure” via sanctions may have led to total non-oil exports going down – but only by 7%. The total remains near historic highs.

According to Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) data published by the Iran Chamber of Commerce, private sector manufacturers were seriously back in business already in the first month following the relaxation of the partial lockdown.

The fact is Iranian consumer goods and industrial products – everything from cookies to stainless steel – are exported by small and medium enterprises to the wider Middle East and also to Central Asia, China and Russia. The myth of Iranian “isolation” is, well, a myth.

Some new manufacturing clusters bode well for the future. Take titanium – essential for myriad applications in military, aerospace, marine industries and industrial processes. The Qara-Aghaj  mine in Urmia, the provincial capital of West Azarbaijan, which is part of Iran’s mineral belt, including the country’s largest gold reserves, has tremendous potential.

Iran features in the Top 15 of mineral-rich countries. In January, after getting the technology for deep-level mining, Tehran launched a pilot project for extraction of rare earth minerals.

Still, Washington pressure remains as relentless as the Terminator.

In January, the White House issued yet another executive order targeting the “construction, mining, manufacturing, or textiles sectors of the Iranian economy.” So Team Trump is targeting exactly the booming private sector – which means, in practice, countless Iranian blue-collar workers and their families. This has nothing to do with forcing the Rouhani administration to say, “I can’t breathe”.

The Venezuelan front

Apart from a few scuffles between the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and the Health Ministry about China’s response to Covid-19, the Iran-China “comprehensive strategic partnership” (CSP) remains on track.

The next big test is actually in September. That’s when Team Trump wants to extend the UN arms embargo on Iran. Add to it the threat to trigger the snapback mechanism inbuilt in UNSC resolution 2231 – if other Security Council members refuse to support Washington and let the embargo expire for good in October.

China’s mission at the UN has stressed the obvious. The Trump administration unilaterally abandoned the JCPOA. Then it reimposed unilateral sanctions. Thus it has no right to extend the arms embargo or go for the snapback mechanism against Iran.

China, Russia and Iran are the three key nodes of Eurasia integration. Politically and diplomatically, their key decisions tend to be taken in concert. So it’s no wonder that was reiterated last week in Moscow at the meeting of Foreign Ministers Sergey Lavrov and Javad Zarif – who get along famously.

Lavrov said, “We will be doing everything so that no one can destroy these agreements. Washington has no right to punish Iran.”

Zarif for his part described the whole juncture as “very dangerous”.

Additional conversations with Iranian analysts reveal how they interpret the regional geopolitical chessboard, calibrating the importance of the axis of resistance (Tehran, Baghdad, Damascus, Hezbollah) in comparison with two other fronts: the US and its “stooges” (the House of Saud, UAE, Egypt), the master – Israel – and also Turkey and Qatar, which, like Iran, but unlike the “stooges”, favor political Islam (but of the Sunni variety, that is, the Moslem Brotherhood).

One of these analysts, pen name Blake Archer Williams, significantly remarks, “the main reason Russia holds back from helping Iran (mutual trade is almost at zero) is that it fears Iran. If Trump does not have a Reagan moment and does not prevail on Iran, and the US is in any event driven out of the Middle East by the continuing process of Iran’s weapons parity and its ability to project power in its own pond, then all of the oil of the Middle East, from the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain, to Iraq, of course, and not least to the oilfields in Saudi Arabia’s Qatif region (where all the oil is and is 100% Shi’ite), will come under the umbrella of the axis of resistance.”

Still, Russia-China continue to back Iran on all fronts, for instance rebuking the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for giving in to US “bullying” – as the IAEA’s board last week passed a resolution submitted by France, Britain and Germany criticizing Iran for the first time since 2012.

Another key foreign policy front is Venezuela. Tehran’s soft power, in quite a spectacular manner keenly observed all across the Global South, de facto ridiculed Washington’s sanctions/blockade in its own Monroe Doctrine “backyard”, when five Iranian tankers loaded with gasoline successfully crossed the Atlantic and were received by a Venezuelan military escort of jets, helicopters, and naval patrols.

That was in fact a test run. The Oil Ministry in Tehran is already planning a round two of deliveries to Caracas, sending two or three cargos full of gasoline a month. That will also help Iran to offload its huge domestically produced fuel.

The historic initial shipment was characterized by both sides as part of a scientific and industrial cooperation, side by side with a “solidarity action”.

And then, this past week, I finally confirmed it. The order came directly from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. In his own words: “The blockade must be broken”. The rest is – Global South – history in the making.

Petroleum Minister Bijan Zangeneh says the Iranian gasoline delivered to fuel-starved Venezuela last month was sold to Caracas at market price.

Source

June 26, 2020

GASOLINE

Zangeneh made the comments on Friday in reaction to allegations that Iran has provided Venezuela with gasoline free of charge.

“This is not true. Iran’s gasoline was sold to Venezuela at market price,” he said.

He said Tehran had received sufficient guarantees for the return of its revenues, and part of the money has already been received.

Regarding the continuation of energy trade with Venezuela, the petroleum minister said, “We should wait and see how negotiations between the two countries will proceed.”

Last month, five Iranian oil tankers set off for the Caribbean and delivered about 1.5 million barrels of gasoline to Venezuela which is under US sanctions and virtual economic siege.

In case of an agreement between Tehran and Caracas, Iran is to follow its trailblazing shipment of fuel to Venezuela with regular gasoline sales despite US threats to punish any facilitation of the cargoes.

Bloomberg said this month the US government has decided to avoid a military confrontation and instead prepared sanctions on as many as 50 oil and fuel tankers as part of an effort to cut off trade between Iran and Venezuela.

“The sanctions would be imposed through the Treasury Department and are intended to avoid a US military confrontation with the countries,” the leading financial news provider said, citing a person familiar with the matter.

However, both Venezuela and Iran have shown they are more than willing to cooperate in defiance of the US threats. According to the Washington Post, Venezuela and Iran have “just proved” that the Trump administration’s sanctions are failing.

“By showing that they were able to trade to mutual benefit”, Iran and Venezuela “not only successfully circumvented US sanctions; they also scored public relations points in the process,” the paper wrote last month.

Source: Iranian Agencies

Meng, Huawei and Canadian Law: Soap, Rinse and Dry-Laundered

By Harry Glasbeek

Global Research, June 25, 2020

The Bullet

Prologue

One of the graver risks for big-time criminals is that investigators will be able to identify them and their deeds by ‘following the money’. The criminals have to hide the proceeds of their crimes. This is done by depositing their monies into legitimate finance houses and businesses. It often requires some fancy book-keeping tricks and intricate transactions. This is called layering by the afficionados of this dark art. Once it is done, the criminals can draw on the accounts created and mix the ill-gotten gains with legally garnered capital. The term for this is ‘integration’ and it makes the investigators’ tasks much harder. The rotten fruit of crime will have been laundered.,

Extradition

For some time now, Hong Kong has seen massive street protests as many people want more of a say for themselves in governance and less of a say for Beijing. In the midst of the chaos, Hong Kong’s legislators proposed to ink an extradition agreement to which China would be the other signatory.

Extradition treaties are arrangements whereby a nation state agrees to return to its partner-nation to the treaty people alleged to have committed criminal acts against that other nation’s laws. It is meant to prevent alleged criminals from avoiding the consequences for their misconduct by escaping to another jurisdiction. When a request for extradition by a signatory to a treaty is received, a court there is to determine whether the application should succeed. It is not its task to question whether the person actually committed a crime. It merely has to determine whether it is the kind of crime which could lead to prosecution if the conduct had occurred in its jurisdiction. This gives the process its legitimacy because it gives effect to legal values shared by both parties to the extradition treaty. The court considering the request has no interest in whether the conduct actually amounted to a crime, either in the applicant nation or in its own. It assumes the facts as alleged by the applicant nation and then determines whether that conduct would amount to a violation of its own laws if it occurred in its jurisdiction.

It is, then, a judicial exercise which is purely formal. It does not make any findings about the issues between the applicant for extradition and the person resisting extradition.

Although this was the essential nature of the Hong Kong Bill, it met with fierce resistance: huge marches, physical fights in the legislature. The protests added fuel to the already widely burning fires of dissent and the Hong Kong government withdrew the Bill. In addition to the upheaval and violence in the streets, the government was likely somewhat influenced by the great show of support for the anti-Extradition Bill movement in countries such as the UK, the US and Canada. This anti-extradition stance by these nations seemed to sit uneasily alongside the fact that they had signed on to many similar extradition treaties themselves. But, they bought into the argument made by the Hong Kong dissidents. This was that, even though an extradition request made by China would be vetted by Hong Kong courts steeped in the principles and values of English common law, the proposed treaty would allow China to use extradition requests for crass political purposes, to help it chase down political opponents and agitators. It would lead to attacks on precious freedoms. Even though the proposed treaty ‘looked’ much like any other, it was likely to be used for unacceptable purposes. This sort of thing would never occur in the UK the US or Canada because, unlike China, they respected and lived by the Rule of Law.

The Lore and Lure of the Rule of Law

Canada’s legal system presents itself as embodying society’s shared values and norms. They are embodied in principles and the instrumental rules devised to give these fundamental principles life. This presupposes that the basic principles can be found and defined and that the rules will be appropriately fashioned and applied. The conventional view is that the judiciary is an independent institution and can be trusted to go about the finding of principles and the interpretation and application of rules in a non-partisan, in a non-political, manner.

Courts will treat all private individuals, whatever their social or economic circumstances, as legal equals whose disputes must be settled by the application of known, rational criteria. Rationality, of the legal kind, is to replace political and economic power, that is, irrational power.

The courts abide by generalizing principles and specific rules. The rules have to be spelled out clearly; citizens are to know of the existence of those rules; new rules should not apply retroactively. The principles and rules are to be applied even-handedly, regardless of status and class. The access to this justice system should be equally available to one and all. These are some of the ingredients of what is so often termed the Rule of Law. It is an attractive system because it suggests that everyone is subject to the same laws and requirements, that political or economic power is not allowed to deny anyone their entitlements or rights established in law. The UK, US and Canadian view is that it, or any equivalent, regime does not exist in China. But, while the idea of it certainly exists in our rather self-satisfied Anglo-American settings, its implementation may leave something to be desired.

While our courts are punctilious about following the procedural safeguards which make up the Rule of Law, they have an enormous amount of leeway when determining how substantive principles and rules are to be interpreted and applied. They are in a position to launder otherwise politically troubling, anti-liberal, anti-democratic, policies and decisions. What happens is a mixing of the adherence to procedural formalities which abjure bias and prejudice with the manipulation of substantive laws which incorporate bias and prejudice. The integrated outcome is analogous to the consequence of the criminals’ mixing suspect monies with legally acquired assets. It makes it hard to see whether there was a political wrong in the first place. It is a form of laundering, legalized laundering.1

The recent proceedings in Canada dealing with the US demand that the Chief Financial officer of Huawei, Meng Wanzhou, be extradited to the US brings some of this into the open. The Supreme Court of British Columbia ruled that Meng’s argument that there was no legal basis for extradition was rejected. Canada’s talking heads and chattering class sighed with relief. The self-proclaimed liberal Toronto Star’s editors welcomed and characterized the virtue of the decision: “Beijing must understand: out courts don’t serve the government… It’s called ‘rule of law,’ a concept foreign to China’s Communist Party and its mouthpieces.” Apart from their evident cold war genre chauvinism, the editors undoubtedly were glad to have any doubts about the Trudeau government’s and Canada’s allegiance to the Rule of Law stilled.

The recent embarrassment caused by the tawdry behaviour of almost every cog in the ruling class’s legal engine room during the SNC-Lavalin scandal which involved the government forcing its own Minister of Justice to resign because she wanted to act independently and deny a flagrantly wrongdoing corporation any kind of soft landing, now could be pushed aside as an uncharacteristic violation of Canada’s basic principles. To them, the Meng ruling signified that, once again, Canada was entitled to be smug, to assert that it was to be envied because of its stout adherence to an unalloyed good, the Rule of Law.

The Ruling in the Meng Case

It all began with a warrant issued by a New York court for Meng Wanzhou’s arrest in August 2018. She was not there. On December 1, 2018, after an extradition request from the US, Meng was arrested by Canadian authorities when she landed in Vancouver. On 28 January 2019, formal charges were laid by the US Department of Justice, accusing Meng’s employer, Huawei, of misrepresentations about its corporate organization which had enabled it to circumvent laws that imposed economic sanctions on Iran. Huawei was also charged with stealing technology and trade secrets from T-Mobile USA. Meng, the Chief Financial Officer of Huawei, was charged with fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud. Huawei pled not guilty to the charges of violating the Iran sanction provisions in a New York court and not guilty to the stealing charges in a Seattle court. After a number of preliminary legal skirmishes, the extradition hearings against Meng began in 2020. Associate Justice Holmes issued her ruling on 27 May, 2020. Law takes its time.

Meng had told HSBC officials who met with her in the back of a Hong Kong restaurant in 2013 that, despite the allegations in a newspaper article, Huawei had not made improper use of a closely associated firm, named Skycom Tech, to supply US materiel to Iran. The reason she had made this statement to HSBC, it was alleged, was that Huawei used HSBC as a banker when transacting business. If Huawei, as alleged, was implicated in violations of the Iran sanction laws, HSBC might well be held to be complicit in such crimes. The US alleged that Meng’s representations to HSBC constituted fraud under its law.

Meng Wanzhou argued that, for a case of fraud to be made out, in both the US and Canada, it was necessary for the prosecution to prove that the fraud materially contributed to a tangible loss. This could not be made out here. For Meng’s deception of HSBC to cause it a tangible loss in the US, it was necessary for US prosecutors to invoke the impact of another law, the Iranian sanction law. Without it there would not be any harm and, therefore, no fraud in the US. As Canada did not have any such sanction provisions in place, Meng’s deception would not have led to any tangible loss in Canada and there would have been no fraud committed in Canada. This argument that the basic requirement for extradition – mirroring laws – had not been met, was rejected by Associate Chief Justice Holmes.

She deployed standard legal reasoning that is, she looked for previous holdings and used the imprecisions she found in them and in the wording of the legislation she was interpreting. Holmes found that previous decisions had held that, in order to determine whether the conduct in the applicant jurisdiction created an offence, it was necessary to assess the essential nature of that conduct. That meant evaluating the foreign conduct in its context, in its legal environment. Meng argued that looking at the legal environment required taking a foreign law, one distinct from the laws being compared, into account, something which should not be done under the Extradition Law.

The presiding judge responded that only some aspects of the legal environment, constituted by that other law, had to be taken into account, not all of it. It was her job to say which aspects could be so used. Holmes admitted that she was going out on a limb because the distinction between looking at some aspects of a foreign law and taking the actual law into consideration is fraught, both as a matter of logic and of established law. She wrote that “the issue is at what level of abstraction… the essence … of the conduct is to be described… there is little authority or precisely what may be included in ‘imported legal environment’.”

Undeterred by the lack of any known criteria (remember the Rule of Law!), she used what she likely calls her common sense and what Meng’s supporters probably think was her unconscious bias. Associate Justice Holmes decided that, in this case, it was appropriate, when looking for the essential nature of the foreign conduct, to look at the effects of that US law, the Iran sanction law. As its effects made Meng’s deceiving conduct fraudulent in the US, and as deception is the core of fraud in Canada, the essential/contextualized nature of Meng’s conduct satisfied the essence of fraud as defined under Canada’s Criminal Code. Lawyers call this sort of finessing good lawyering; in the wider community it is seen as legal chicanery. Holmes ruled that Canada was free to extradite Meng.

Laundered

All that effort to put Wanzhou Meng’s fraud into legal context and not a scintilla of regard for the political, social and economic context of the case!

Everyone, literally everyone, knew what had led the US to charge Huawei and its CFO. It was to obtain bargaining chips in its fight with China. It was to persuade its citizens that it was right for the government to deny them access to cheaper goods and a better 5G system because China would abuse its growing economic influence and enhance its spying potential. It was to make China more pliable when the US demanded better trade terms and more protection for its intellectual property, etc. There was no attempt to hide any of this.

Did the Canadian government understand this? Of course. Did it feel it had to allow the US to use Canada’s supposedly neutral legal machinery to further its political project? Of course. Could the Canadian government have said “no” and simply turned a blind eye when Wanzhou Meng landed in Vancouver? Of course.

Was Associate Justice Holmes, at the very least, in a position to guess all of this? Of course.

The Supreme Court of British Columbia had the timelines of the saga before it. All the events that led to the fraud charges occurred years before the tug-of-war between the US and China turned into a full blown version of a new cold war. Meng’s alleged misrepresentations to HSBC occurred in August 2013, several months after Reuters had published its report on the links between Huawei and Skycom Tech. that supposedly led to Iran being supplied with US materiel.

It took five years for the US to charge Huawei and Meng. It took five years for its righteous indignation about Huawei’s and Meng’s violations to reach fever pitch. It took five years for the US to decide that a deception of one set of private entrepreneurs by other private entrepreneurs ( a garden variety event in an aggressive competitive milieu), a deception which took place in a far away jurisdiction, presented a danger to the integrity of the US justice system. That integrity had not been seen as severely threatened when the masters of the universe deceived millions of people during the subprime mortgage scandals, at least not sufficiently to charge any of the more senior perpetrators. None of this was of any concern to the Supreme Court of British Columbia. The court was only concerned with the narrowest of decontextualized legal issues before it. Its certainty that its only responsibility was to the Rule of Law signified to it that it should not be troubled by the possibility that it might be used as a pawn, by either the US or the Canadian government or both.

Nor was this lack of concern shaken by President Trump’s highly publicized statement to Reuters (the outfit which had written the report which started the ball rolling), made just after Wanzhou Meng was released on bail. Trump said that he would certainly intervene in her case “if I thought it necessary” to help forge a trade deal with China. Undoubtedly some people (especially lawyers) might think it right and proper for a court to ignore a blatant admission by a craven politician that the supposedly independent system of law of both the US and Canada was being used for partisan political purposes. After all, the statement had been made extrajudicially and had not been put before the court. While the judge might have known about the Trump intervention, much as she knew that the US and China were having a political tug-of-war and that Canada had been drawn into it, the wilful blindness demanded by the Rule of Law demanded that she make no reference to any off this knowledge.

This reasoning makes no sense to anyone not held in rapture by the Rule of Law fantasy. Immediately after Trump made his provocative statement, Trudeau realized that the public might draw the inference that Canada was just bowing to its Big Brother ally and permitting it to abuse the Canadian justice system. It evoked the notion that the US and Canada were just one country with two systems. He was forced to respond.

Trudeau issued the following statement: “Regardless of what goes on in other countries, Canada is and will always remain a country of the rule of law.” The message was clear: we, the elected government and its executive have nothing to do with any of this; we rule an independent country; we have an independent legal system and it makes these kinds of decisions. We respect this and abide by the results. When it comes to the extradition of Meng, we, the politicians, like Pontius Pilate, wash our hands off the whole mess. It has nothing to do with us. It is not a political matter.

This is why the editors of the Toronto Star and all other opinion moulders greeted the ruling in the Meng case with such acclaim. By ignoring all the real facts underlying the dispute, the court had given support to the Canadian government’s pretence that the Meng case had not raised questions about its participation in a complex set of political, economic and ideological controversies. Their role had been laundered. If the outcome suited the US in its struggle with China, this was incidental; Canada’s government had not pushed for such an outcome because it believed in the Rule of Law. These cheerleaders pointed out that, if Canada had interfered with the judiciary’s operations, it would certainly have pushed for a different result.

As it was, the judicial ruling could only strain relations between Canada and China, a most undesirable state of affairs as Canada hoped to have China release two Canadians accused of committing serious offences in China; more Canada had no interest in imperilling important trade relations with China, as the judicial ruling might well do. That is, the result may be a political win for Trump, but a loss for Trudeau, two Canadian citizens and, likely, some farmers and manufacturers if China uses its economic clout to punish Canada.

So viewed, the judicial outcome gives the impression that the government had not played any part in the decision-making. It should, therefore, not be held politically responsible for the consequences. The government had acted righteously, it had been true to the Rule of Law. Its conduct had been sanitized, laundered.

Of course this argument is not as strong if the judicial outcome is not seen as inimical to the government. What did Canada actually want? We can only guess. But it is to be remembered that the government did detain Wanzhou Meng; if it had not done so, the worst that would have happened is that the US might have been annoyed. Assuming, as it makes sense to do, that Canadian officials understood full well what the US was up to, the detention suggests, although it does not prove, that the government was not opposed to the obvious political and economic goals of the US. More strongly, it indicated that it was willing to support those goals. After all, it knew the risks it was taking. The headline in the Ottawa Citizen on 15 December, 2018, read: “Abelev: In the Huawei case, Trump has enlisted in a game Canada can’t win.”

Another glimpse of the Canadian government’s thinking is provided by Prime Minister’s request that John McCallum resign from his post as Ambassador to China after he had made public statements which indicated that he thought the case against Meng was trumped up and, therefore, should lead the government to reject the extradition request. This would help Canada in its negotiations with China which, in apparent retaliation, had jailed two Canadian citizens.

Implicit in McCallum’s intervention was a reference to a legal power that Canada has reserved for itself over extradition processes. The Minister for Justice can, at any moment after a request for extradition is received, abort the process. In Trudeau’s angry reaction to McCallum, he made no reference to this, pretending political interference with the judicial system was to be eschewed.2 While to some people, then, Trudeau’s publicized disapproval of McCallum’s views (and of similar ones by former Prime Minister Jean Chretien a little later), did dovetail with the claim that the government should not take a position on matters to be determined by a judge, it also suggested that the government would not object too much if the ruling went against Meng, regardless of what it might mean for Huawei, Meng and the prisoners. After all, the justification for the hands-off the justice system proffered by Trudeau should not have been given too much credence.

At that time a full-blown scandal was raging over the SNC-Lavalin affair. Trudeau was brazenly trying to get rid of an independent Minister of Justice precisely because she was thwarting his enactment of a law which was to apply retroactively (remember the Rule of Law!) to save a serial wrongdoing corporation. A curious symmetry weirdly surfaces. The Trudeau government was trying to give its rogue actor, SNC-Lavalin, the kind of gentle treatment the US had given HSBC by giving it access to a deferred prosecution agreement of the kind that the US had given that deviant bank.

There were many polluting particles in the ambient air as the Meng case was processed in the supposedly politically unpolluted atmosphere of law. Undoubtedly, Associate Justice Holmes did her best to blow all these toxic particles out of her mind, as all judges claim to do. But this does not mean that they did not influence her mind-set. We will never know. That is how laundering works: if the dirt which soiled the cloth is rinsed out, all that one is left with is clean cloth. Just what the government needed.

Epilogue

The legal processes have not ended. Meng may appeal the ruling on double criminality handed down by the Supreme Court of British Columbia, arguing the Holmes’ reading of how the essential nature of conduct in a foreign state was to be found was erroneous. Her lawyers do have some plausible arguments to proffer on this issue. Before that will take place, a hearing will be held into Meng’s allegation that, when she was detained in Vancouver, prior to being turned over to the RCMP, the border official obtained Meng’s telephone numbers and passwords and then passed these on to the RCMP. She was detained and questioned for three hours before she was told of her arrest. She claims her constitutional rights were violated and that the RCMP and Canada’s Border Services Agency acted, improperly, as US agents.

This is a claim that procedural safeguards essential to the proper operation of the Rule of Law had been breached. If successful it would make the arrest wrongful and mean that the committal process which led to Holmes’ ruling should be voided. The result of the adjudication on this action by Meng can also be the basis for an appeal. If all of it, the denial of proper process and the Supreme Court of British Columbia’s ruling on double criminality, are settled in favour of Canada, the extradition process can continue, although, as seen, the Minister for Justice can always set the whole thing aside.

There are many other hurdles to clear. The Trump Administration may be replaced, the Trudeau government (in a minority position) may fall before all this is over. It is also difficult to know what steps China will take and how this will influence political minds in Washington and Ottawa. These unknowns highlight how artificial it is to pretend that a request for extradition is a legal, non-political, struggle based on rational aseptic criteria.

To underscore this point, note that, on 4 June, 2020, the US State Department issued a threat. It will reassess its sharing of intelligence with Canada (a member of the so-called Five Eye intelligence network) if Canada chooses to let Huawei market its 5G technology in Canada. This makes it clear that the extradition case was never about a fraudulent misrepresentation to a ‘vulnerable’ foreign bank, but about furthering US efforts to ward-off the danger of an economic and political threat posed by China.

Law and its Rule of Law are convenient tools, no more no less. They should not be granted too much respect. Certainly they should not permit our governments to present themselves as unsullied, as if they have come out of the washing machine, smelling fragrantly.

And, oh yes, after its agreement with the US Department of Justice, HSBC had made much of its new approach and had spent money on better systems to inhibit wrongdoing. On 8 April, 2020, it was reported that HSBC had admitted it had engaged in money laundering in Australia. Maybe it does not require Huawei or Meng to engage in fraud to get HSBC to participate in criminality.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Harry Glasbeek is a Professor Emeritus and Senior Scholar, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University. His latest books are Class Privilege: How law shelters shareholders and coddles capitalism (2017) and the follow-up, Capitalism: a crime story (2018) both published by Between the Lines, Toronto.

Notes

  1. ‘The legalization of politics’ is the name given by Harry Glasbeek and Michael Mandel, “The Legalization of Politics in Advanced Capitalism: The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms” (1984), Socialist Studies, 2:84, and by Michael Mandel, The Charter of Rights and the Legalization of Politics in Canada, rev. ed., Toronto; Thompson Educational, 1994, to a process which removes class and history from political discourse and consciousness.
  2. As well, there is a rarely used law on the books, the Foreign Extra Territorial Measures Act, that the Attorney-General can deploy to repulse measures of a foreign state that are likely to significantly affect Canadian interests. This is the legislation used to allow Canada not to comply with the US sanctions on Cuba. Arguably, but not certainly, it could be used to block the extradition of Meng.

Featured image is from The BulletThe original source of this article is The BulletCopyright © Harry GlasbeekThe Bullet, 2020

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

Source

BY: Ebrahim Fallahi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Venezuela

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

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

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

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

Iran-Venezuela trade

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

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

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

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

EF/MA

Caesar: Another Failing Attempt to Restrict Syria, Hezbollah

Caesar: Another Failing Attempt to Restrict Syria, Hezbollah

By Nour Rida

On Wednesday, the United States is due to bring into effect the toughest set of sanctions on Syria, as part of the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act. The Caesar act is a law that was passed in December of 2019 and allows the American administration to impose sanctions on foreign companies, countries, and people who do trade or transactions with Syria.

Mainstream media outlets describes the law’s main intent is as “to punish Bashar al-Assad’s government for atrocities committed against the Syrian people,” using negative ideology to shape the story according to the US political agenda in the region.

The mainstream narrative of Western media is a penetrating medium, capable of creating false consciousness among the viewers. This is something many peoples of Western countries know by now. Looking back at media reports, one can see how positive ideology to describe the Bush administration was used as he was classified as ‘friendly’ and a ‘liberator’ at the time he invaded Iraq. This is one simple example of how media manipulates words and discourse to serve its own goals. Lest we forget the Takfiri terrorist groups in Syria that killed and raped and destroyed across the country regardless of the religious or ethnic background of the people; the US administration would call them “Syrian opposition” and legitimizing their existence and violence.

Back to the topic, today media reports call Syria an oppressive regime and the US claims it stands by the Syrian people by imposing the Caesar act. Words matter, but they cannot change history. The Caesar act imposed on Syria carries the same goals of the US backing and support of terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq throughout the past few years; stopping Bashar al-Assad from supporting the resistance movement in Lebanon of Hezbollah. Hezbollah is the only force by far that has been able to defeat ‘Israel’ and prove its vulnerability.

As said earlier, looking at the geopolitics of the region, it is obvious that the main target of the Caesar act is the Hezbollah resistance movement which constitutes a threat to the ‘Israeli’ apartheid regime. The act aims at breaking the Syrian will and causing uproar across the country as it puts pressure on the people.

The Caesar act seems to be paired with another attempt to cripple the resistance or weaken it that was overlooked by the media. It comes under the pretext of bolstering surveillance capacity of the UNIFIL inside Lebanon. UN chief Antonio Guterres said in a report that video surveillance and sensors already deployed, Guterres called for thermal-imaging cameras, hi-tech binoculars and drones which could strengthen the UNIFIL surveillance capacity.

In a report published Tuesday ahead of the mission’s renewal in August, Guterres said the UNIFIL criticized by the United States and ‘Israel’, needs to be “more agile and mobile” in particular on the Blue Line separating Lebanon from Occupied Palestine.

Guterres said the changes could come from “replacing some heavy infantry functions used for day-to-day activities with reconnaissance functions” using smaller “high-mobility light tactical vehicles and reconnaissance vehicles with improved monitoring capacity.”

The UN head also said he wanted to see construction of observation posts and for UN troops to have modern technology to collect and analyze data and improve their communications. Amid such demands skepticism rises on the real need of such equipment at a sensitive time and place.

Back to the sanctions, what the US has still not realized after its experience of imposing sanctions on Iran- an ally and supporter of Syria and the resistance in the region, is that it has failed to achieve its goal of destroying the resistance and its allies. The attitude of Syria would be similar to that of Iran, the sanctions will probably be an incentive to achieve self-sufficiency. Yes, choking Syria’s economy will hurt and will cause the troubled economy of Lebanon also to deteriorate further, but what does not kill someone only makes him stronger.

It is worth noting that this is not the first time the US imposes sanctions on Syria. In 1979, the US considered Syria a ‘supporter of terrorism’ as it stood by The Islamic Republic of Iran after its victory and overthrow of the US-backed Pahlavi regime. By imposing the act, the US again aims at toppling the resistance axis in the region or bringing about what it calls “change in attitude”.

“The new US sanctions will be far broader in terms of their sectoral targeting, but also, critically, will involve US targeting of other countries and businesses seeking to do business with the Syrian government in a bid to ensure Syria’s tightening economic isolation,” Julien Barnes-Dacey, director of the Middle East and North Africa program at the European Council of Foreign Relations (ECFR), told Al Jazeera.

It is true that imposing sanctions on Syria will make things tough and strangle the reconstruction of the war-hit country after around 9 years of Takfiri terrorist groups destroying Syria, but the US and its allies must keep in mind that Syria has the potential and the infrastructure to reactivate its agricultural and industrial activities. So for media outlets that have been exacerbating their campaigns and picturing Syria in starvation and famine, keep in mind that the Syrians will always manage to have food on the table despite all pressure.

Hezbollah for its turn is the main target behind all this. “Impose sanctions on Syria, force the ending of transactions and import into Lebanon, force the end of Syria-Hezbollah cooperation and it is all sorted out.” This is far from being accurate. The resistance forces in the region including Hezbollah are immune against such attempts. Some Lebanese factors are cooperating with the US and ‘Israel’ to disarm Hezbollah, but that remains to be an unrealized dream. Resistance in face of occupation is a right, and standing up for oneself is an act of self-defense.

That is one important thing to keep in mind. Another important issue to remember is that the US is in decline and this is a fact today. Russia, China and Iran will not abandon Syria and its people. Lebanon as well, stands before the option of moving towards the East, where it can find its way out from American pressure. Whether it is fiber optics and pipe gas lines, the silk road project, the trade corridor designed to reopen channels between China and countries of Central Asia, the Middle East and Europe, these are all considered as potential for cooperation between Syria, Iraq, Iran, Russia, China and Lebanon (if its political factions agree to turn their back to the US and its dictations). It takes bravery, consent and a political decision to stand in face of US coercion, and as the US power declines by the time such a scenario of shifting towards the East and abandoning the US supremacy becomes possible.

لا عقوبات على بري وباسيل ولا ضمّ للضفة

ناصر قنديل

ينجح الأميركيون بنشر غبار كثيف تتشكل منه المادة الإعلامية العربية، وتبقى لزمن، لا يلبث بعده الغبار عن التبدّد، لينتشر غبار جديد ويدخل الرأي العام العربي في عاصفة غبار متجددة. والمقيمون في واشنطن والمهتمون بما يحدث فيها وما يصدر عنها، يسألوننا، لماذا يقع المحللون العرب ومن ضمنهم المحسوبون على خيارات يفترض أنها مناوئة للسياسات الأميركية في فخاخ توحيل الغبار، فيخلطونه بماء من نهر الوقائع الجارية فتجعله قابلاً للتصديق، ويربطونه بمستنقعات تنتجها حال الركود والفراغ، ليصير الغبار وحلاً، والشائع عن عمليات التوحيل أنها تسعى لرسم معادلة نهايتها أنه، كلما حاول أحد الخروج من الوحل غرق فيه أكثر.

منذ التداعيات التي خلفتها جائحة كورونا ولا تزال، عالمياً بصورة عامة، وأميركياً بصورة خاصة، وما طال منها الاقتصاد وقطاع النفط بصورة أخصّ، والأميركيون قلقون من تأثيرات سريعة لذلك على مكانتهم السياسية في المنطقة، لإدراكهم أن لهذه التداعيات تأثيرات يدركها بدقة خصوم واشنطن وعلى رأسهم إيران وحلفائها، على المسار الانتخابي للرئيس دونالد ترامب، وسعي لإقامة توازن مع إمكانية استثمار هذه التداعيات لجعل ترامب أشد ضعفاً كلما اقترب موعد الانتخابات، وقد تفاقم هذا القلق مع الأحداث التي شهدتها الولايات المختلفة في إطار الاحتجاجات الواسعة التي أطلقها مقتل المواطن الأميركي من أصول أفريقية جورج فلويد، واتخاذ هذه الاحتجاجات طابع الانقسام الوطني بين تيار مناهض للعنصرية يصب غضبه على سياسات ترامب، وتيار يزداد ضعفاً يقف وراء الرئيس الأميركي، والقلق الأميركي المزدوج من استثمار الخصوم في الداخل والخارج لهذه الأحداث المتمادية والمتواصلة في تأثيراتها، لا يمكن تبديده بخطوات ومبادرات هجومية، خصوصاً على الصعيد العسكري، الذي بات محكوماً بمعادلة السعي للتهرب من كل استحقاق مواجهة، وقد جاءت المبادرة الإيرانية الهجومية بإرسال ناقلات نفط تخترق نظام الحصار والعقوبات على إيران وفنزويلا، والعجز الأميركي عن التصدّي لها، لتبت هذه المعادلة وتمنح هذا القلق الكثير من المشروعيّة.

يقول العارفون بالداخل الأميركي، إن الأزمات التي حملتها تداعيات كورونا، ليست حكراً على أميركا، وما فعلته في المجتمع والاقتصاد الأميركيين، أنها ضخمت وظهرت إلى السطح بقوة، أزمات كانت غائرة في قعر المجتمع، ومشاكل مالية واقتصادية بنيوية كانت تختفي وراء سرعة الحركة والمداولات، وأنه من الطبيعي أن يحدث الشيء نفسه لدول ومجتمعات أضعف من الدولة والمجتمع الأميركيين، وهذا هو الحال مع ما يجري في إيران وسورية والعراق ولبنان وسواها من دول العالم، التي كشفت تداعيات الجمود الاقتصادي المرافق لكورونا، مشاكلها وضخمتها وعمّقتها وظهرتها إلى السطح، ولذلك يسعى صناع السياسة في واشنطن لمنح سياسة العقوبات جائزة لا تستحقها بنسبة كل ما تشهده دول ومجتمعات خصومهم لهذه العقوبات. فالعقوبات التي تطال أفراداً ومؤسسات في هذه الدول لا تقدم ولا تؤخر في الاقتصاد المعاقب بما هو مهم وبالأهم أصلاً، ومنذ سنوات، سواء لجهة منع تصدير النفط الإيراني والسوري، أو ملاحقة التحويلات المالية للاغتراب اللبناني، أو منع فتح الاعتمادات المصرفية للاستيراد لحساب السوقين الإيراني والسوري، والضغط على العراق ولبنان لفصلهما عن هاتين السوقين الإيرانية والسورية، وكل جديد لا يعدو كونه طلقة صوتية بلا مفعول في غير السياسة، إلا إذا صدق المعنيون في هذه الدول والمجتمعات أن ما تسببت به أزماتهم التي كانت تحت السطح وظهرت بقوة مع تداعيات كورونا هي من نتاج العقوبات الجديدة، والتي هي في الغالب لم تفرض بعد.

يتوقف العارفون بالداخل الأميركي، أمام نماذج مما هو رائج عربياً هذه الأيام، أولها ما يجري تسويقه حول قانون قيصر للعقوبات على سورية، فيقولون اقرأوا القانون أولاً وستكتشفون بسرعة أن كل ما ينسب إليه من جبروت في تدمير الاقتصاد السوري مبالغات إعلامية، لأن ما يمكن معاقبته لضرب الاقتصاد السوري قد عوقب منذ زمن، والقانون هو ورقة سياسية للضغط على موسكو ودمشق لحجز مقعد للجماعات الكردية المحسوبة على واشنطن في قطار التسوية السياسية، بشروط ترفضها دمشق لاتصالها بالمساس بوحدة سورية ومفهوم السيادة فيها. والقانون بالتوازي محاولة التوصل لصيغة توافقية مع دمشق وموسكو في جنوب سورية تمنح بعض الاطمئنان لكيان الاحتلال، تسهيلاً لجعل الانسحاب الأميركي من سورية، مرتبطاً بوفاء واشنطن بقدر من وعودها لكل من الجماعات الكردية وكيان الاحتلال، بأنها لن تتركهم يواجهون قدرهم، في مواجهة معادلات لا يقدرون على مواجهتها وحدهم.

النموذج الثاني الذي يتحدث عنه العارفون بالداخل الأميركي، هو ما يكثر الحديث عنه عن ربط العقوبات بمسعى للتغطية على تمرير ضم الضفة الغربية من جانب حكومة كيان الاحتلال، كترجمة للوعود التي تضمنتها صفقة القرن، ويقول العارفون إن واشنطن وتل أبيب تدركان حجم المخاطرة التي ستنجم عن إجراءات الضمّ التي تطال 40% من الضفة الغربية، وفقاً لنصوص مشروع صفقة القرن، لأن الخاسر الرئيسي فيها سيكون الفريق الفلسطيني الذي أقام برامجه على مفهوم التفاوض وخيار التسوية، بتبخّر آخر أحلامه بعودة لاحقة للفرص أمام مسارات تفاوضية نحو التسوية، والمعني هنا هي حركة فتح والسلطة الفلسطينية، اللتان ستجدان نفسيهما أمام اضطرار التصعيد الذي يعني انتفاضة ثالثة كبرى يصعب أن تنتهي في العديد من نقاط الضفة الغربية إلى غير ما انتهى إليه مسار الانتفاضة الثانية من تحرير غزة، وما يعنيه ذلك من تفكك الجغرافيا العسكرية للكيان، وخلق تحديات استراتيجية جديدة فوق طاقته، ولذلك فكل السعي الأميركي منصبّ على توزيع أدوار مع حكومة بنيامين نتنياهو، لمقايضة التراجع عن قرار الضم بالمزيد من إجراءات تطبيعيّة مع حكومات الخليج، التي ستصيبها إجراءات الضمّ كما تصيب القيادة الفلسطينية في طرح الأسئلة حول جدوى الخيار التفاوضيّ، ويقول العارفون إن السقف الذي يجري الحديث حوله بين واشنطن وتل أبيب للضم المفترض انخفض من 40% إلى 3% وربما ينخفض أكثر ليقتصر على عدد محدود من المستوطنات، وربط اعتباره نهائياً بنتائج أي مفاوضات مقبلة.

النموذج الثالث الذي يتحدث عنه العارفون بالداخل الأميركي، هو التسريبات التي تطلق منذ مدة حول نيات فرض عقوبات على حلفاء حزب الله، خصوصاً كل من رئيس مجلس النواب نبيه بري ورئيس التيار الوطني الحر جبران باسيل، ويقول العارفون إن الترويج لهذا التهويل يثير السخرية عند صناع السياسة في واشنطن، الذي لا يصدقه إلا بعض الذين يرددونه في لبنان والعواصم الخليجية، فواشنطن تدرك أنها تحتاج لبقاء خيوط العلاقة وخطوطها مع بري وباسيل، لأنها لا تريد الخروج من لبنان، وترك حزب الله يتفرد بالقرار مع حلفاء خسروا مثله ما يجعلهم ينتقلون معه إلى السياسات الراديكالية. والقضية المحورية التي تهم واشنطن ليست اليوم سلاح حزب الله الذي يفوق ما تتيح به المعادلات، ويتسلى بعض النشطاء المغرومين بواشنطن بجعله عنواناً لإرضائها، ولا قطع العلاقة اللبنانية بسورية، التي يحتاجها الأميركيون تحت نظرهم مصدراً لمنح لبنان بعض شروط الحصول على أوكسيجين قليل الكلفة، لأن الاهتمام الأميركي لبنانياً له محور واحد حالياً هو ترسيم الحدود البحرية للنفط والغاز، وهذا ما ستظهره مفاوضات الحكومة اللبنانية مع صندوق النقد الدولي قريباً، والسعي الأميركي بتوظيف التلويح بالعقوبات على بري وباسيل يتمحور حول دعوة باسيل لطلب تسلم ملف التفاوض تحت عنوان نقل المرجعية التفاوضية إلى رئاسة الجمهورية، ودعوة بري للتخلي عن الإمساك بملف التفاوض، أملاً بالحصول على فرص أفضل لترسيم يريح كيان الاحتلال، قبل الانسحاب الأميركي من المنطقة، ويمكن تمريره لبنانياً تحت شعار الحاجة اللبنانية لتقديم موارد سيادية واعدة يمكن لصندوق النقد الدولي الاستناد إليها لتبرير تقديم المساهمة التي يطلبها لبنان.

يوجز العارفون بالداخل الأميركي خلاصتهم بالقول، سيكتشف الجميع خلال فترة قريبة أن قانون العقوبات على سورية هامشي الأثر، لكنه سيبقى سيفاً مشهراً للتهويل، وأن ضم الضفة الغربية سيتحول إلى إخراج هوليودي ضعيف بهوامش إعلامية لا أكثر ولا أقل لكن بجوائز تطبيعيّة، لكن الضم لن يسحب من التداول، وأن العقوبات في لبنان قد تطال أسماء سيضحك اللبنانيون عندما يسمعون أنها حصيلة حملة التهويل فتبقى الأسماء الكبيرة في التداول، لأن الهدف سيبقى وهو إبقاء عاصفة الغبار مستمرة وإبقاء الباب مفتوحاً للتهويل والتوحيل، هنا وهناك وهنالك. ويختم العارفون بالقول، إنه لو يترك أهل المنطقة الغبار الأميركي غباراً، ويكفون عن توحيله سواء بنيات حسنة وسيئة، لنقلته التيارات الهوائية بعيداً، ولما بقيت منه إلا بعض الذرات التي يسهل مسحها عن سطوح الطاولات وزجاج النوافذ.

فيديوات متعلقة

مقالات متعلقة

حربُ القيصرينِ… حقائق ووقائع تاريخيّة ومعاصرة!‏

يضع ترامب بسياسته المنطقة على فوهة بركان لن تكون نتائجه دون تدمير من يقاتل من أجله أيّ الكيان الصّهيوني

شوقي عواضة

منذ العام 2011 بدأت الولايات المتحدة الأميركية فرض عقوباتٍ اقتصاديةٍ على حزب الله من خلال وضع بعض قياداته على قوائم الإرهاب إضافةً إلى بعض المحسوبين أو الداعمين والمقرّبين منه. وقد فعّلت الإدارات الأميركية من خلال مؤسّساتها التشريعية والتنفيذية منذ ذلك التاريخ العمل بتلك العقوبات وتطويرها ليشمل كلّ دول الممانعة التي عجزت فيها الولايات المتحدة عن تحقيق أيّ إنجازٍ أو تقـــدّم ميدانـــي بدءاً من حصارها لسنواتٍ طويلةٍ لإيران وقيادتها ثمّ الحصار والعدوان على اليمن وحصار الفلسطينيين في غزة، إضـــافةً إلى فرض حصارٍ اقتصادي على لبنان وســورية لا سيما في ظلّ إعلان قانون قيصر وتهديد العراق بالمزيد من العقــوبات في حال عدم الرضوخ لسياسات ترامب دون أن ننسى الحصار على فنزويلا.

كلّ ذلك يندرج ضمن محاولة إدارة ترامب قلب المشهد بعد تلقيها المزيد من الهزائم والفشل لمشاريعها التآمرية، هذا الفشل يحاول من خلاله البيت الأبيض التعويض عنه بفرض المزيد من الحصارات الاقتصادية التي تطال أفراداً وشركاتٍ ومؤسساتٍ مختلفةً ومصارفَ، وبذلك فإنّ واشنطن تمارس المزيد من الضغط في محاولةٍ من أجل تطويع وإنجاز الوعد التاريخي لنتنياهو في صفقة القرن قبل انتهاء ولايته وإجراء انتخابات أميركية يحتمل أن يكون فيها ترامب الخاسر الأكبر لا سيما في ظلّ سياساته الفاشلة في مواجهة جائحة كورونا وبعد مقتل المواطن الأميركي جورج فلويد الذي فجّر فتيل الاحتجاجات في الشارع الأميركي.

وبالرّغم من سياسات ترامب الفاشلة على المستوى الداخلي لم يعد أمامه المزيد من الحلول في ظلّ ارتفاع وتيرة غضب الشارع الأميركي تجاه تلك السياسات إلى جانب استغلال هذه الأزمات وتجييرها لصالح منافسيه في الانتخابات المقبلة أمر دفع ترامب للبحث عن إنجازٍ كبيرٍ يغطي فشله الذريع على المستوى الداخلي ويعيد لراعي السياسة العنصرية بريقه الذي قد يحققه بالمزيد من الحصار على سورية بقانون قيصر الذي يريد فرضه والالتزام به على حكومات لبنان والعراق، في التجربة التاريخية وعلى مدى أربعين سنة من الحصار على إيران الثورة لم تنجز الإدارات الأميركية المتعاقبة وحكّامها من الجمهوريين والديمقراطيين أيّ إنجاز ولم تحقّق أيّ هدفٍ من أهداف الحصار والعقوبات وعلى الأقلّ فشلت الولايات المتحدة في إيقاف البرنامج النووي الإيراني وإيقاف تطوير منظومات الصواريخ البالستية الإيرانية والصناعات العسكرية بشكلٍ عام وأصبحت إيران في طلائع القوى العسكرية العالمية التي استطاعت أن تضع حدّاً لتلك الغطرسة الأميركية في المنطقة. وبالرّغم من الحصار الطويل والعقوبات المديدة استطاعت إيران تسجيل العديد من الانتصارات وإلحاق المزيد من الهزائم للولايات المتحدة وحلفائها من الكيانين السعودي والصهيوني وما استمرار فصائل المقاومة الفلسطينية في غزة والمقاومة في لبنان وهزائم داعش في سورية والعراق وصمود اليمن الأسطوري بعد أكثر من خمس سنوات على العدوان وكسر الحصار عن فنزويلا بإرسال ناقلة النفط الإيرانية فذلك ليس سوى دليل واقعي على هزيمة المشروع الأميركي في المنطقة يحمل الكثير من الأبعاد والرّسائل منها رسالة إيرانية تقول بعد حصار أربعين سنة أثبتت الولايات المتحدة فشلها الذريع وتراجع مشروعها وتضعضعه أمام صمود الإيرانيين وتنامي قدراتهم في شتّى المجالات، ورسالة يمنية خطّت بسواعد المقاومين والصامدين من أبناء الشعب اليمني الشريف تفيد أنه بعد عدوانٍ وحصار لأكثر من خمس سنوات بقيادة الولايات المتحدة الأميركية أنجز خلالها الجيش اليمني وأنصار الله تحرير مساحاتٍ كبيرةٍ وشاسعةٍ من الأراضي اليمنية محققين بذلك انتصاراً تاريخياً على أعتى تحالفٍ للشّر تقوده الولايات المتحدة وترسانتها العسكرية المتطورة.

أما الرسالة الأخيرة فهي رسالة سورية الأسد حصن المقاومة ودرعها الذي سيتـــهاوى عنده امبراطورية الشيطان الأكبر وقيصر الشياطين ترامب الذي يعتقد أنّه فرض المزيد من العقوبات من خلال قانون قيصر وسيُرضخ سورية، لكن الواقع التاريخي والمعاصر لسورية يقول إنّ ماضي السياسات الأميركية في المنطقة لم يضعفنا بل زادنا قوّةً وصلابةً وعزماً وأنّ ما تمارسه إدارة ترامب من ضغوطٍ لن يرهبنا بل سيزيدنا إصراراً على مواجهة ذلك الشـــيطان وحلفائه وأنّ ترامب بسياسته هذه يضع المنطقة على فوهة بركان لن تكون نتائجه دون تدمير من يقاتل من أجله وهو الكيان الصّهيوني فانتظر إنّا منتظرون.

Iranian Coronavirus Aid Flight Arrives In Venezuela despite Continued US Pressure

Iranian Coronavirus Aid Flight Arrives In Venezuela despite Continued US Pressure

By Staff, Agencies

Venezuela said an Iranian flight carrying humanitarian aid for use in the fight against the coronavirus has arrived in the South American country, as Tehran and Caracas move to forge closer ties to blunt the impact of the US sanctions targeting the two nations.

The plane carrying emergency equipment, including medicines and test kits, landed at Venezuela’s Maiquetia airport on Monday to help the country combat the COVID-19 outbreak, Venezuela’s Planning Minister Ricardo Menendez said.

“Right now, what we are receiving is different types of testing kits,” Menendez said on state television, standing on a runway at Maiquetia airport near what appeared to be boxes piled on pallets.

Commenting on the aid delivery, Iran’s Ambassador to Venezuela Hojjatollah Soltani said, “Today we are seeing the arrival of these materials to strengthen Venezuela in its fight against coronavirus.”

Iran — one of the worst-hit states by the coronavirus — has been under a series of draconian American sanctions that are hampering its access to imports of medicine and vital medical equipment.

However, the Islamic Republic has been successful in its efforts to contain the outbreak mainly relying on home-grown efforts for producing treatment and diagnostics.

Venezuela — also subjected to crippling US bans — has so far reported over 2,470 COVID-19 cases and 22 deaths, but health experts have warned that the country’s healthcare system remains vulnerable to the outbreak due to the American embargo.

International aid bodies, including the Human Rights Watch and the Johns Hopkins University’s Centers for Public Health and Human Rights, have warned that the virus outbreak in Venezuela jeopardizes the health of Venezuelans and threatens to contribute to the regional spread of the disease.

In a statement in May, the two humanitarian institutions said “it is critically important for foreign governments to depoliticize aid and for the US government to ensure that existing sanctions do not contribute to the crisis or hinder humanitarian efforts.”

Iran’s aid delivery is the latest sign of growing ties between Iran and Venezuela.

Recently, Iran dispatched five tankers carrying fuel to Venezuela despite threats by the administration of US President Donald Trump to take action against them.

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

By Elijah J. Magnier

Source

Tareck El Aissami Iran 257be

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

%d bloggers like this: