Reasons why Iran backs Venezuela

Source

July 8, 2020 – 13:48

As two oil-producing countries under U.S. sanctions, Iran and Venezuela have been working in recent years to strengthen geopolitical ties to relieve U.S. pressure and find a solution to improve their economies.

A significant expansion in Iran-Venezuela relations would allow the presidents of both countries – Hassan Rouhani in Tehran and Nicolas Maduro in Caracas – to challenge the United States’ imperialist policies.

 This relationship will calm down sentiments of anti-American groups inside Iran and Venezuela and shows their strong ties and alliance as two members of the Non-Aligned Movement. 

Over the past weeks, Tehran has come to the aid of Caracas in various ways, sending fuel, refinery parts, and more recently humanitarian aid. Fuel delivery is a lifeline for the Maduro government. Venezuela has been suffering from a shortage of gasoline, basic foodstuffs, and medicine amid the economic crisis. 

American sanctions and pressure on the left-wing government in Venezuela have led to a sharp decline in public services and a spread of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Through supporting Maduro, Iran tries to turn Venezuela into a foothold to challenge U.S. hegemony and revive anti-imperialist policies in the world.

 Besides, Iran is working hard to increase its influence in Latin America, which has long been considered U.S. “backyard” and increase its access to various resources in the continent. 

“Iran flew out some $500 million in gold bullion as payment for services rendered,” according to a Bloomberg report. However, officials in Iran dismissed the report.

The gradual increase in U.S. sanctions against Caracas even pushed back Maduro’s loyal ally Russia. Pressure from Washington caused Rosneft, the Russian state-controlled oil firm, to cease operations in Venezuela in March and sell all of its assets in the country.

That’s why the Maduro government needs Iran’s collaboration to strengthen its hand against U.S. sanctions, as the country is grappling with harsh U.S. restrictions on its oil exports and international financial transactions.

 Iran is experiencing worse economic sanctions. This happened after the U.S. under the Trump presidency unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA and returned the previous sanctions and imposed new ones.

Although Russia and China have continued to support Venezuela by sending humanitarian aid to the country to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, analysts say Caracas no longer can request multibillion-dollar loans from its international allies as the country has pre-sold its oil for the coming year, which caused the price of this product to fall to its lowest level in history.

But, Tehran-Caracas relations made a fuss, when Western media focused on Iran’s flights to Venezuela in recent weeks; the flights which were reportedly carrying Iranian oil industry equipment and technology for unused Venezuelan refineries.

In mid-May, the news of five Iranian tankers carrying 1.5 million barrels of fuel to Venezuela dominated the headlines. The measure raised concerns if the U.S. Navy would stop the cargo.

It caused both Iranian and Venezuelan leaders to warn the U.S. about any wrong step which may threaten global peace and security.

Iranian oil tankers were eventually escorted into Venezuelan territorial waters by planes and ships from the Venezuelan armed forces to temporarily solve the country’s shortage of fuel.

This collaboration was described as a political victory over U.S. sanctions and bullying in the world.

With officials promising to ship more fuel and food from Tehran to Caracas, it seems that Iran is going to be the greatest help to the Venezuelan economy; It would be enough to turn up the heat on the United States and its allies, especially if Latin America’s political pendulum swings back to the radical left.

UK denying Maduro access to Venezuelan gold is not only THEFT, it’s MURDER of London’s reputation as trusted financial center

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George Galloway

George Gallowaywas a member of the British Parliament for nearly 30 years.

He presents TV and radio shows (including on RT). He is a film-maker, writer and a renowned orator. Follow him on Twitter @georgegalloway

©  Getty Images / Vitoria Holdings LLC

The standards are poor at the Bank of England these days, I don’t know why anyone would want to do business with them. George Galloway gives British banking, and justice, a triple-fail rating.

It used to be “a thing” when I was growing up. “As safe as the Bank of England” was the acme of trustworthiness and security. But as Venezuela – and any other Global South country foolish enough to entrust the British with their sovereign wealth just found out in the High Court in London – the Bank of England isn’t any longer safe at all.

Almost a billion dollars worth of Venzuelan gold bullion has just been stolen by the British government, theft has just been legalized, and the thieves didn’t even bother to wear a mask.

The gold was deposited in London by the then internationally recognized government of Venezuela. But the now internationally recognized government of Nicolas Maduro has been refused permission to have its value transferred to the United Nations in New York for work they wish the UN Development Program to conduct against the coronavirus pandemic.

READ MORE

Venezuela in legal battle to get its gold back from Bank of England

Venezuela in legal battle to get its gold back from Bank of England

Instead, a man off the street in Caracas by the name of Juan Guaido – who has not only never been elected to power in Venezuela, he’s no longer even elected as the leader of the opposition – is the legal owner of the gold, says Justice Alice-in-Wonderland. After all, words mean whatever the British government wants them to mean.

The elected president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, is recognized by the great majority of countries in the world. More importantly, his government is recognized at the United Nations. It is not true, as the British government told the High Court, that they “do not recognize” the Maduro government – they recognize it every day at the UN, in discussions in the canteen as well as in the chamber.

Moreover, it is the principle of British diplomacy that they “recognize” whomsoever is in effective control of a territory – whether they like them or not. Though, come to think of it, they did breach that “principle” once before – when they continued to recognize the Cambodian genocidal murderer Pol Pot  and insist that Comrade Number 1 remains in his seat in New York long after he was actually overthrown and while the mountain of corpses in Cambodia were being counted.

By any standards, Maduro is in effective control of Venezuela and Juan Guaido is not. Maduro controls every square inch of Venezuela, is the elected president, is recognized by the United Nations and by most countries in the world. Guaido is not elected, is not recognized by the United Nations, nor by most countries in the world and doesn’t control one single inch of Venezuelan territory. But he is now the proud owner of the gold in the Bank of England. It makes the Great Train Robbery look like a mere bagatelle, Guaido makes the Thief of Baghdad look like an amateur. It is the greatest single act of theft ever to take place on British soil. And that’s saying something.

ALSO ON RT.COMMystery of the Venezuelan gold: Bank of England is independent of UK govt – but not of foreign govt

But away from the scene of the crime, away from Venezuela, British officials in their ivory tower should take note. It wasn’t just theft which took place in the Strand this week – it was murder. The murder of London’s reputation as a financial center you can trust.

Certainly, any sovereign government which has invested its sovereign wealth in London should examine their head if not the current state of their balance. This decision has given a green light to the Pirates of the Caribbean, and you could be next. Fall out with the British government and they can now hand all your country’s wealth they can grab, over to your opposition, however discredited.

Quite a day’s work in financial standards, a triple-A fail.

If I ever won the National Lottery (which I don’t enter) the last place on Earth that I would deposit my millions would be in London. Standards here just went down the rabbit-hole and will never re-emerge. The City of London has fallen.

When I was young I told my Irish grandfather that the teacher had told me that the British had an empire so vast that the Sun never set upon it. He answered “that’s because God would never trust the British in the dark.” I knew he was telling the truth. And now so does Venezuela.

©  Getty Images / Vitoria Holdings LLC

https://www.rt.com/op-ed/493718-uk-maduro-venezuela-gold/

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

Maduro Orders EU Envoy to Leave Within 72 Hours Over New Sanctions

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Maduro Orders EU Envoy to Leave Within 72 Hours Over New Sanctions

By Staff, Agencies

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has ordered EU envoy Isabel Brilhante Pedrosato to leave within 72 hours after the EU sanctioned a group of Venezuelan officials.

“I have decided to give the European Union ambassador 72 hours to leave the country,” Maduro said in a televised address, also noting that Pedrosato will be allowed to use a plane to leave the country.

“Enough of European colonialism against Venezuela,” Maduro added.

Maduro’s order comes hours after the Council of the European Union on Monday sanctioned 11 additional Venezuelan officials, including parliamentarians, a magistrate and a senior military chief, for acting against the National Assembly, which is dominated by the opposition, Reuters reported. The individuals sanctioned are recognized by the Maduro government but not by the members of the Assembly.

The sanctions include a travel ban and an asset freeze. So far, 36 Venezuelan officials linked to the Maduro government face sanctions.

According to the Council, the 11 newly-sanctioned individuals “are particularly responsible for acting against the democratic functioning of the National Assembly, including stripping the parliamentary immunity of several of its members,” Reuters reported. The Council also accused the individuals of “creating obstacles to a political and democratic solution to the crisis in Venezuela.”

The United States itself has imposed numerous rounds of sanctions against Venezuela in response to the political developments in the country. On January 23, 2019, opposition leader Juan Guaido proclaimed himself Venezuela’s interim president, denouncing Maduro’s government as undemocratic and calling for Maduro’s ouster. Since then, several failed attempts have been made to remove Maduro from power.

Last year, the US also imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s state-owned oil and natural gas company PDVSA. Recently, the Trump administration sanctioned three Mexico-based individuals for selling crude oil from Venezuela.

“The illegitimate Maduro regime created a secret network to evade sanctions, which Treasury has now exposed,” US Deputy Secretary Justin G. Muzinich said in a statement at the time. “The United States will continue to relentlessly pursue sanctions evaders, who plunder Venezuela’s resources for personal gain at the expense of the Venezuelan people.”

Last Wednesday, Washington also imposed sanctions on the captains of five Iranian tankers over oil deliveries to Venezuela.

“Today, the United States is sanctioning five Iranian ship captains who delivered around 1.5 million barrels of Iranian gasoline to Venezuela in support of the illegitimate Maduro regime,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

Maduro has repeatedly stated that the US is using sanctions to choke out his government and gain access to the country’s oil reserves, which are the largest in the world.

“Let’s not allow a Vietnam in Latin America,” Maduro said last year, warning against the dangers of US intervention.”If the United States intends to intervene here, they will have a Vietnam worse than what they can imagine. Let’s not allow violence.”

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.

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

If Trump Is Thinking About a Meeting with Maduro, What About Trudeau?

By Arnold August

Global Research, June 23, 2020

Based on an interview held in the White House last Friday, June 19, the U.S. website Axios reported:

“Asked whether he would meet with Maduro,” Trump said, “I would maybe think about that…. Maduro would like to meet. And I’m never opposed to meetings — you know, rarely opposed to meetings. I always say, you lose very little with meetings. But at this moment, I’ve turned them down.”

The context of what may appear to be a sudden reversal in Trump’s Venezuelan policy is to be found in John Bolton’s recently released memoir on life under Trump, The Room Where It Happened. According to Bolton (cited by Axios), after throwing the full diplomatic weight of the U.S. government behind Juan Guaidó, Trump’s private feelings about his protégé were ambivalent:

“He thought Guaidó was ‘weak,’ as opposed to Maduro, who was ‘strong.’”

“By spring [of 2019], Trump was calling Guaidó the ‘Beto O’Rourke of Venezuela,’ [Democratic Party candidate for the 2016 presidential elections won by Hilary Clinton] hardly the sort of compliment an ally of the United States should expect.”

In the Trump lexicon, the honorific applied to O’Rourke generally means “loser,” a term to deprecate political opponents. It may be that this tentative reaching out to Maduro, as opposed to hanging on to what was appearing even in Trump’s eyes as a lost cause, has its roots in previous discussions among Trump’s Cabinet.

Any eventual contact between Trump and Maduro is an ongoing but controversial story emerging from U.S. corporate media, the White House and perhaps Bolton. In fact, only one day after Trump seemed to have opened the door to discussing with Maduro, he tweeted on June 22.

“I would only meet with Maduro to discuss one thing: a peaceful exit from power!“

However, “meeting” and “discussing” is still in the news. Moreover, the fact remains, following the latest divulgations cited above, that Trump is evaluating “discussion” from a position of weakness. As Trumps has admitted, his anointed “president“ is a complete failure to date.

The situation in Canada is different. Action can be taken now as there is nothing to wait for. The Trudeau government plays a leading role in carrying forward Trump regime-change policy through the right-wing Lima group, with its avowed intention of overthrowing Maduro and installing Guaidó.

The time is ripe, because on June 17 the Trudeau government suffered a humiliating defeat in its high profile bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council. In the spotlight during the weeks leading up to the vote, we saw just how close Trudeau’s relationship is to Trump. In fact, many Canadians viewed it as subservience. This evaluation even found its way into some corporate editorials on the defeat. Also under scrutiny in the UNSC debacle was the Trudeau government’s lack of respect for international law and UN resolutions.

In a word, since June 17, Trudeau does not have either an international or domestic mandate to conduct foreign policy as he has carried out since winning office. Along with other grassroots organizations and personalities, the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute was instrumental in pushing for the NO vote and creating domestic support to back up the international appeals.

If Trudeau would like to make up for his past errors and show the world there is indeed a difference between the U.S. and Canada, and that we do not perhaps stand behind every Trump move, what better opportunity that to build on Trump’s short-lived opening to Maduro? Why should Trudeau not declare that, unlike Trump, he would like to have fair and open discussions with Maduro, as anyone who believes in an “international rules-based order” should do? Surely it would take courage to do so. But this is far closer to “Canadian values” than what Trudeau has been repeating over the last few weeks. Such a courageous stand would also constitute a rebuttal of Trump’s heavy-handed, dictatorial methods. Since the vote on the 17th, the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute, encouraged by its and others’ success in breaking through the usual mainstream media blackout, is following up on what many see as a mandate from the grassroots. It is calling for a popular discussion and consultations on foreign policy in these terms:

“Dear PM Trudeau,

Time to Fundamentally Reassess Canadian Foreign Policy

One of the 10 subjects raised is:

  • Why is Canada involved in efforts to oust Venezuela’s UN-recognized government, a clear violation of the principle of non-intervention in other country’s internal affairs?

Trudeau has admitted that he has to take stock of a foreign policy that has been so soundly rejected by United Nations’ member states. By revising its failed and harmful policy toward the Venezuelan people, it would contribute to a much-needed atmosphere of discussion and consultation on Canada’s outdated and unpopular foreign policy.

*

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Featured image is from The Santiago TimesThe original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Arnold August, Global Research, 2020

THE CAESAR ACT: THE LATEST WESTERN ATTACK ON SYRIA DIDN’T DROP FROM A PLANE

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Eva Bartlett

As Syria struggles to recover from over a decade of US-imposed conflict, it faces a new deadly threat in the form of sweeping sanctions under the Caesar Act.

by Eva Bartlett, June 19th, 2020, Mint Press News

20200601_103632

Wounded Syrian soldiers, Talib Mu’alla (left) & Inad Ahmed (right)

Talib Mu’alla served as a soldier in the Syrian Arab Army before he was wounded in Aleppo in 2014. As he described the multiple shots he took to his body, I thought it remarkable that he survived.

“A shot (bullet) to my chest, a shot to my stomach, three shots in my spine. My chest, stomach, and intestines ruptured, and I lost a kidney. I was also shot in the right side of my face,” he recounted. “I fell into a coma for 25 days, then woke for a few days and fell back into a coma for another 16 or 17 days. It took two years for me to be able to walk again.”Talib was discharged from the army after his injuries and has since joined an auxiliary of the army. “From  2011 until now, I haven’t taken off my uniform. And I won’t take it off until the war is finished,” he said.

The media’s monsters

As a consequence of the war on Syria, there has been immeasurable loss: the destruction of historic places like Palmyra, Maaloula (the ancient Aramaic village northeast of Damascus), Aleppo’s souqs; and the destruction of city districts in the fight against terrorism. Aleppo’s souqs were being carefully restored when I traveled to Syria in March. Yet, there is still much rebuilding to do and thanks to the Caesar Act, that just got harder.

More appalling than the destruction of Syria’s historic places is the human loss, civilian and military alike. Regarding the latter, little concern is meted out by Western press over the deaths and maiming of members of Syria’s national army. On the contrary, the Syrian Arab Army is portrayed in Western media and by Western politicians as murderers and thugs personally belonging to President Assad and not to Syria.

Nothing could be further from the truth, and indeed countless videos and anecdotes of Syrian soldiers putting their lives on the line in order to protect and save civilians from terrorists are available for any who wish to see them. The army is a conscript army but also includes career soldiers and men and women who voluntarily joined in order to defend their country.

Last August, I interviewed the Syrian Arab Army’s Head of Political Administration, General Hassan Hassan. He noted that the Syrian army “includes in each of its formations, soldiers from all Syrian governorates, with no exception.” This defies Western media’s portrayal of the Syrian army as “Assad’s army” or their claims that those fighting “rebels” (terrorists) are only from the Alawi sect. These types of claims are put forth in an attempt to create the illusion that in Syria, it has been President Assad and “his forces” against disenchanted Sunnis, an utterly false claim.[Read: A Syrian Leader Tells His Country’s Story: An Interview with SAA General Hassan Hassan ]

This sectarianism exists largely in the minds of those backing terrorism in Syria, be they Saudi, Turkish, Qatari, or Western leaders.

When I asked General Hassan to speak more on the army, he replied:

The two greatest armies in modern history have failed to achieve what the Syrian Army has accomplished. In Afghanistan, fewer than 10 percent of the number of terrorists in Syria were able to defeat two armies: the Red Soviet Army and the U.S. Army.

But, the Syrian Army defeated such terrorism. The Syrian Army fought battles that can be classified as new in military science. The Syrian Army fought above ground and underground battles in addition to their battles against the media war, intelligence war, information war, economic war, gang and street-to-street wars. Despite all of that, the Syrian Army achieved victory. Therefore, can we imagine the magnitude of the sacrifices made in this respect by the Syrian Army?”

On various trips to and around Syria over the years I’ve encountered Syrian soldiers in hot zones where terrorists linger nearby and in liberated areas, at checkpoints and in hospitals. Many are young, and others are grey-haired, proud to be serving in the defense of their country and citizens.

Palmyra, July 2016
Aleppo, November 2016

Many drive taxis in their off-hours to compensate for the meagr salary they receive, a salary that doesn’t compare to the hefty salaries paid to members of Gulf and Turkish-backed armed militants.

Together, and with the help of Syria’s allies, they staved off some of the most heinous and powerfully-backed terrorists the modern world has known, but at a great price.

The numbers of wounded soldiers, particularly critically-wounded, are not published, so it is hard to gauge just how large their numbers are. However, given that the war on Syria has raged for nearly a decade, with soldiers fighting well-armed terrorists from around the world–terrorists with the backing of the U.S.-led coalition in Syria — the numbers of martyred and maimed can only be tragically-high.

Wounded veterans prepare for life after war

Given that the U.S. government frequently criticizes the government of Syria for not taking care of its citizens, it’s worth reflecting on the shameful manner in which the U.S. neglects its own veterans of war. But in Syria, a myriad of associations work with war-wounded soldiers to provide prosthetic limbs and rehabilitate them after their injuries, giving them life skills to work or start their own businesses.

Jerih al-Watan (The Wounded of the Homeland), is a veteran support program founded in 2014 by the Syrian Presidency with the support of the Syrian Trust For Development and medical experts. The aim of Jerih al-Watan, according to its Facebook page, is “providing adequate care and appropriate rehabilitation to secure a decent life for the wounded,” from the army, popular defense forces, and internal security forces.”

Jerih al-Watan focuses on physical rehabilitation, social and psychological support as well as vocational training for jobs ranging from construction to food production.

The latter is what I saw last week when I traveled to the Qardaha region in northwestern Syria. A region I had not previously visited, Qardaha is a paradise that the average person may not associate with Syria, as many mistakenly imagine the country to be all desert. It is not, of course.

Traveling a familiar route from Damascus to the coast, I passed rows of greenhouses and the citrus and banana trees that are prevalent in the Tartous and Latakia region and finally moved up along a road lined with pine trees and wildflowers, winding up through the mountainous hills of Qardaha. Photos of martyred soldiers appeared when passing through Qardaha itself, as they do all over Syria.

I reached the training point, where, in the evening, a gorgeous pink sunset descended over the layered hills, the sea in the distance.

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Soldiers were receiving training in the skills of cheese and yogurt making, staples of the Syrian diet. They were first shown how to make the products, then had a hand at making them themselves. The final results were the delicious spice-colored yogurt balls and black-sesame-laden cheeses that are ubiquitous in Syria’s restaurants.

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With these skills, the soldiers are able to start a small enterprise and support their families.

In between training sessions, wounded soldiers sat chatting in the shade. With their permission, I spoke with some of them about their injuries and feelings about having served in the army. With injuries ranging from vision and speech impairments to difficulties walking or loss of hands, I was struck by the graceful confidence of the injured soldiers.

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Instead of wallowing in their injuries, they looked to future prospects, improving their knowledge to improve their lives.

A reservist in the army, Ayet Yusef was wounded in 2013 while serving in Aleppo. “We were attacked at 2 am by armed terrorist gangs. A clash occurred, during which I was wounded by shrapnel in my left eye. I lost sight in that eye. But after treatment, it is now fine.” Yusef, like most wounded soldiers I’ve met, is proud of having served, and even prouder of his injury. “We raise our heads to the sky. We were in the Syrian Arab Army and that is an honor for us. And if they now asked me to serve again, no problem,” he said.

Another soldier, 30-year-old Du’a Ijna, had difficulty speaking as he explained how he was injured in 2011. “We were on patrol in Khan Sheikhoun (Idlib),” he recalled, “A terrorist group attacked and I was wounded by shrapnel to my brain. That affected my hands, legs, and speech. I was paralyzed for a month and a half, but after physiotherapy, it got a little better.”

Jaafar Badran was injured in 2016 while serving in Aleppo. His injury left him without his right hand or left leg. “We resisted the terrorism, and there will be martyrs and wounded among us, and that’s okay. What matters is the country returns to stability.”

Inad Ahmed was injured while serving in Tulul al-Himr, al-Qunaytra. “I was shot in my spinal column, and for three years I couldn’t walk.” Ahmed now walks with a severe limp but speaks with a smile. “I have to be optimistic about what I’m going through and keep looking ahead. What happened happened.”

Just beyond the training location, a beautiful sunset burst out and I thought about the many wounded soldiers, some whose lives were disrupted forever, others who overcame major injuries to the point they could walk, or at least hobble, again. They were all gracious. Some on the shy side, others — including men whose injuries were the worst — gregarious and humorous. Spending time with them was humbling, but also reaffirmed what I already knew about the army: they are some of the most courageous people I’ve met and those who write lies about them should hang their heads in shame for being so far from the truth.

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Post-training photo of the group of soldiers who received vocational training. Photo | Eva Bartlett

Initiatives like this, teaching and encouraging economic self-reliance, are more critically-important than ever these days in Syria. After over nine years of war and relentless sanctions on the country, Syria’s economy is as shattered as the cities formerly occupied by terrorist groups. Neither would be devastated had the U.S. and allies not launched its clandestine war against Syria, but they did, and the economic war on Syria will only worsen.

The Syrian Trust, a nonprofit national development organization headed by the first lady of Syria, has been quietly helping soldiers with rehabilitation and prosthetics as well as giving them training, even supplying machinery and other equipment needed for small businesses.

In November 2016, after having visited Aleppo for the fourth time just weeks before the city was finally liberated from the array of terrorist gangs occupying its eastern and southern regions, freeing the people of the hell on earth they’d endured for years — I was back in Damascus and visited the Hamish Hospital in Barzeh, where Jarih al-Watan was manufacturing prosthetic limbs performing physiotherapy for wounded soldiers.

There, I saw many soldiers going through differing degrees of physiotherapy and rehabilitation after having been injured. Many were without one or both legs, others missing hands and arms.

I met Ali, a 30-year-old soldier who lost both his legs in a mine blast a year prior on the Khanasser road to Aleppo. The first time I went to Aleppo in July, the taxi driver told me that Da’esh (ISIS) routinely creeps onto the road at night to lay mines and the SAA in the morning has to clear them so the road is safe for civilians and transport trucks.

Ali was a slight young man, and emblematic of the stoic, strong nature of Syrians fighting this war against terror and for their country. Ten days after losing his lower legs, Ali was walking on artificial ones. When I met him, he was finishing physiotherapy and wants to go back to defending Syria.

I am discharged from the army but I want to go back. We want this war to be over.”

He isn’t the only gravely wounded soldier I’ve met who wanted to return to service. In May 2018, Syrian soldier and incredible photographer Wassim Issa was gravely injured in a terrorist landmine blast that blew off both his lower legs and left him in a coma for two days. When I visited him in the hospital three days after his injury, he was sitting up in bed wearing a huge smile at my visit. Although I already knew him to be a courageous and gentle man, I was surprised at how upbeat he was, having just escaped death and lost his ability to walk.

In subsequent visits over the years, Wassim maintained his positivity that he would walk again. Indeed, by October 2018 Wassim had been fitted with prosthetic limbs and done the needed physio in order to walk again.

On one of my visits, he told me: “I don’t need money, I don’t need a house, I just need peace for my country.”49115126_10161491800425651_446505113624772608_n

A screenshot from a news report shows Wassim Issa in January 2019 via the Facebook page, “Here Lattakia

I met Captain Ali, a Syrian pilot and soldier who was injured five times (more, actually, but he only counts the major injuries), several times in Latakia in July and August of 2016. He was shot by a sniper, the bullet going through his arm, sniped through his hip, shot in his head (requiring 26 stitches), received shrapnel in his chest, and finally lost his left leg to a Da’esh suicide bomber.

Captain Ali was awarded the Russian Medal of courage for his work in the Latakia countryside. He also had stories of the helicopter he was flying being hit on three different occasions but not being downed.

His personality was a mixture of humility, confidence, humour.

Captain Ali in Latakia hospital, 2016

*Meeting with Captain Ali in a Latakia hospital in 2016. Photo | Eva Bartlett

And in Aleppo this past March, I met Ahmed Abo Alkef, 29, in then recently-liberated al-Zahra’a, Aleppo. Alkef joined the army in June 2010 and was close to fulfilling his conscription service when he was shot in the head by a terrorist sniper, leaving him in a coma for several months.

He is now paralyzed on one side of his body, the bullet still in his skull. Like other soldiers I’ve spoken with, Alkef without hesitation to my question replied he is proud of serving in the army and proud of his injury, life-shattering as it is.

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Ahmed Abo Alkef, half-paralyzed by his injury after being sniped to his head.

In the Barzeh Center physiotherapy training hall, Ali walked with a young man who appeared to be around the same age, also missing his lower legs.

At the prosthetics factory, the Director, Dr. Yousef Sarraj, stressed that in his experience 25 percent of those patients they treat request artificial limbs specifically with the intent of returning to the battlefront to defend Syria, including the ten officers who are currently waiting for limbs so they return to the battlefront.

While there, the power briefly went out and roughly 20 seconds later, the generators kicked in. Dr. Sarraj noted: “We can overcome problems of power, but we can’t overcome the problem of getting raw materials for the prosthetics.”

Unsurprisingly, Western sanctions on Syria include prohibiting key materials needed in prosthetic limbs manufacturing, including (among many things) resin, the primary material used in the manufacture. According to Dr. Sarraj, to acquire 100 kg of resin would take around one year.

Meeting the needs of sanctions-ravaged Syrians

In addition to its work with injured soldiers, the Syrian Trust For Development also focuses on providing micro-credit, assisting disabled Syrians, supporting children with cancer, rural development, supporting families of missing persons, supporting victims of sexual violence, culture, and heritage, and children’s and women’s issues.

In October 2016, I visited a community center in Barzeh, Damascus, supported by the Syrian Trust. The community center manager, Ahmad al-Khodr told me the center had opened in 2015 and served a diverse community.

“There is a lot of political and religious diversity here in Barzeh, as many people from all over Syria left their homes, due to the war, and settled here in Barzeh. In this community center, you’ll see a small glimpse of Syrian communities around the country. Every day there are more than 400 beneficiaries here, between children, men, and women.

Barzeh and nearby Aysh al-Warwar had big battles. The FSA (Free Syrian Army) was there for a long time. In 2014, there was reconciliation here between the Syrian army and the FSA. This community center is very near the region under truce. So this place is more diverse than other regions of Damascus (in terms of political leanings).”

He explained the Trust’s approach to assisting those in need:

We study the cases to know what are the needs of the people here. We visit their houses. We don’t implement any plan without knowing what is needed and knowing that the plan will meet their needs.

We have a law department which, among other things, helps people who have lost their identity papers during the war.”

Vocational training is offered at the center, including teaching women to sew and men to paint homes.

Sewing training at Barzeh community centre

We also support them with courses on how they can start their own businesses, how to market their products and business. After the workshop we provide them money to start their own businesses, some are loans and others they don’t need to repay. After the courses, we connect the beneficiaries with factories or places of work. And others start their own small businesses.”

Khodr explained that psychological support is offered to women whose husbands were martyred or kidnapped by the FSA or other terrorist groups and to victims of domestic violence. “We teach them to know their rights,” he said.

Children also received psychological support, and for children who have left school because of the war, the Trust gives them special classes to get caught up enough to return to schools.

“This applies to children up to baccalaureate level. We also have classes for people who never studied, elderly who don’t know how to write or read. They receive a certificate from the Syrian government.”

I asked about the women whose husbands might have been members of the FSA or other terrorist groups. “Aren’t you worried that the women will earn money and give it to their husband, to the fighters?”

Khoder replied, “The people who live here are very poor, very in need. They want to live, eat, sleep in peace, they won’t be giving their money to fighters, they need it simply to live. Here we work with beneficiaries as people, not numbers. Other NGOs (UN etc) you’ll see them working in high-class clothing. Here we work with them as brothers and sisters. We work with them whatever their religious or political view. We work with them as humans. They are our brothers and sisters in Syria.”

This last point, about how the Trust deals with those it helps, I saw for myself when Trust employees were talking with the injured soldiers receiving vocational training. They indeed took an interest in the soldiers’ lives, engaging with them as fellow Syrians, to the point that when it was learned that it was the one year birthday of a soldier’s daughter, a cake was procured and we visited the family.

Over the tabbouleh and kibbeh the family offered, as the birthday girl wobbled around the room charming all, the grandfather, himself having served many years in the army, spoke with pride about his wounded son’s service. The personal insights gleaned from conversations and from seeing the state of homes helps the Trust to assess their needs, even needs not mentioned by recipients themselves.

More misery from the West: increased sanctions

In 2020, it’s no secret, and no longer debatable, that the misery Syria’s people have faced for almost a decade—the relentless, savage, terrorism of civilians and military alike—is a product of Western, particularly American, covert and overt meddling.

Western countries use forums like the United Nations as well as government-funded media to further their goals and distort the reality about events on the ground in Syria. The West supports terrorist gangs who have slaughtered and pillaged since the war on Syria started in 2011. In fact, the West and its Gulf allies instigated the non-revolution, flooding money and weapons into Syria before the first protests even emerged.

AsI wrote in 2015:


In 2002, then-Under Secretary of State John Bolton added Syria (and Libya, Cuba) to the “rogue states” of George W Bush’s “Axis of Evil,”…meaning Syria was on the list of countries to “bring democracy to” (aka destroy) even back then.

Anthony Cartalucci’s “U.S. Planned Syrian Civilian Catastrophe Since 2007” laid out a number of pivotal statements and events regarding not only the war on Syria but also the events which would be falsely-dubbed the “Arab Spring.” Points include:

  • General Wesley Clark’s revelation of U.S. plans to destroy the governments of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran.
  • Seymour Hersh’s 2007 “The Redirection” on NATO and allies’ arming and training of sectarian extremists to create sectarian divide in Lebanon, Syria and beyond.

The 2009 Brookings Institution report, “Which Path to Persia?,” on plans to weaken Syria and Lebanon, to later attack Iran.

Further, asreported:

  • U.S. funding to the Syrian opposition began flowing under the Bush administration in 2005.
  • Since its founding in October 2011, the Syrian National Council has received $20.4 million from Libya, $15 million from Qatar, $5 million from the UAE.

Former French Minister for Foreign Affairs, Roland Dumas, in aJune 2013 TV interview spoke of his meeting (two years prior) with British officials who confessed that:

Britain was organizing an invasion of rebels into Syria. This operation goes way back. It was prepared, preconceived and planned….”


The Caesar Act

The recent passage of the Caesar Act is the newest level of criminality targeting Syria, even the name of the act is based on a lie. An implementation of yet further brutal sanctions against the people of Syria, it will cause immense suffering, all under the premise of targeting Syria’s leadership and helping Syria’s people. The flawed and hypocritical logic is one which the U.S. has applied to tens of nations who have refused to cower to its hegemony.

Even U.S. envoy for Syria James Jeffrey has acknowledged America’s intentional destruction of Syria’s economy, allegedly stating recently that the sanctions, “contributed to the collapse of the value of the Syrian pound… the Syrian regime is no longer able to manage an effective economic policy… due to the economic crisis that is also affecting Lebanon. ”

In the same statement, Jeffrey claimed the sanctions will “protect” Syrians, a comment far from reality.

Recall that after the sanctions-induced murder of between one million-one and a half million civilians in Iraq, the Western narrative of sanctions as merely targeting leaders of nations has long been exposed for the malevolent lie that it is.

The website Sanctions Kill notes that “Sanctions are imposed by the United States and its junior partners against countries that resist their agendas. They are a weapon of Economic War, resulting in chronic shortages of basic necessities, economic dislocation, chaotic hyperinflation, artificial famines, disease, and poverty. In every country, the poorest and the weakest – infants, children, the chronically ill and the elderly – suffer the worst impact of sanctions.”

In Venezuela, sanctions led to the deaths of 40,000 Venezuelans in 2018 alone.

Heavily-sanctioned for years, Syria faces the same risks.

As Syrian-American activist, Johnny Achi, told me:

The sanctions on Syria have been imposed since I could remember. Firstly in 1979, when the U.S. first designated Syria as a state sponsor of terrorism for its roll in support of the PLO and the Palestinian cause.

‏In 2004, a new set of sanctions was imposed by Bush the son after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and after Syria refusing to kneel to the demands of the new world order.

Since the so-called “uprisings” began in March 2011, the Obama administration intensely pursued calibrated sanctions to deprive the Syrian government of the resources it needs to quell the terror and violence inflicted on the Syrian population by Obama’s supported Nusra and ISIS terror groups, and to pressure the Syrian president to give in and resign, “to allow for a democratic transition as the Syrian people demand.” Which could not be further away from the truth, since President Assad, by most Western reports, continued to enjoy no less than 70% popularity amongst all Syrians.

All these sanctions up to the new Caesar Act were bearable since Syria has always pride itself of being self-sufficient economically and never needed help from the international community, and refused to be in debt to the IMF or the World Bank.

The Caesar Act of 2019 came in direct response to the series of victories by the Syrian Army against terrorists across the whole country, setting the stage to the final battle of Idlib, the terrorists’ final hotbed.”

Under the sanctions levied by the Caesar Act, Syria cannot import vital medications or the materials to produce them, including for cancer, hypertension, and other critical ailments. Sanctioning Syria’s ability to import medicines, medical equipment, and among many other things, materials for rebuilding, is criminal and an act of terrorism.

As I wrote in a December 2019 editorial for RT:


When I was in Syria last October, a man told me his wife had been diagnosed with breast cancer, but because of the sanctions he couldn’t get her the conventional treatments most in the West would avail of.

In 2016, in Aleppo, before it was liberated of al-Qaeda and co, Dr. Nabil Antaki told me how –because of the sanctions– it had taken him well over a year to get a simple part for his gastroenterology practise.

In 2015, visiting Damascus’ University Hospital, where bed after bed was occupied by a child maimed by terrorists’ shelling (from Ghouta), a nurse told me:

“We have so many difficulties to ensure that we have antibiotics, specialized medicines, maintenance of the equipment… Because of the sanctions, many parts are not available, we have difficulties obtaining them.


In 2018, Syria’s Minister of Health told me that Syria had formerly been dubbed by the World Health Organization a “pioneer state” in providing health care.

“Syria had 60 pharmaceutical factories and was exporting medicine to 58 countries. Now, 16 of these factories are out of service. Terrorists partially or fully destroyed 46 hospitals and 620 medical centers,” he told me.

I asked the minister about the complex in Barzeh, targeted with missile strikes by the U.S. and its allies in April 2018. It turns out that it was part of the Ministry of Health and manufactured cancer treatment medications as well as antidotes for snake or scorpion bites and stings, the antidote also serving as a basic material in the manufacture of many other medicines.

Syrian-American doctor Hussam al-Samman told me about his efforts to send chemotherapy medications to Syria for cancer patients in remission. He jumped through the various hoops of America’s unforgiving bureaucracy to no avail. It was never possible in the first place.

We managed to get a meeting in the White House. We met Rob Malley, a top-notch assistant or adviser of Obama at that time. I asked them: ‘How in the world could your heart let you block chemotherapy from going to people with cancer in Syria?’

The U.S. and allied Western countries imposing the sanctions on Syria should be imprisoned for their crimes against humanity and their support of terrorism in Syria. Yet, there is never justice and the criminals run the show.

Fares Shehabi, a Syrian member of Parliament from Aleppo, highlighted the attack on his country’s economy in 2011:

…when EU backed “rebels” began a systematic campaign of burning & looting thousands of factories in Aleppo, including my own!” The EU, he continued, “sanctioned the Syrian economy to make things worse for our people!”

The latest round of sanctions against Syria, which came into effect on June 17, will target not only the people but also Syria’s ability to rebuild the country. This includes rebuilding the city of Raqqa, utterly destroyed by the U.S.-led coalition in Syria, whose presence is in violation of international law and of Syria’s sovereignty.

“Sanctions Kill” also notes, that, “Currencies are devalued and inflated when sanctions are levied. Countries are pressured to stop doing business with targeted countries. The first sectors affected are generally medicines, cost of food, power, water treatment and other essential human needs. Sanctions violate international law, the UN charter, Geneva and Nuremberg conventions because they target civilians by economic strangulation, creating famines, life threatening shortages, and economic chaos.”

According to the World Food Program, “7.9 million Syrians are food insecure – an increase of 22 percent in just one year. Syria is in the grip of a severe economic crisis, and this is driving levels of food insecurity. Rising food and fuel prices and a depreciating informal exchange rate are making it more difficult for families to access the food they need.”

This is precisely what is occurring in Syria, which, with the help of its allies, is attempting to rebuild. US sanctions will hinder the rebuilding process.

The other day I was chatting with a college student, Naji Kaskas, about how this new round of heightened sanctions affects him. He said:

I started working this year, my savings are in Syrian pounds. Now, they’ve lost half their value, or more. This Caesar Act, what it already has done to us is to contribute to the collapse of the Syrian currency.

We’re unable to buy food like chicken and meat, now, they’re way too expensive. Even milk. We’re not living a normal life, we have anxiety because our future is not stable.

Before, 500 Syrian pounds were equal to US$1 (Note: before 2011 it was around 50 Syrian pounds to the dollar). Now, it has reached 3,000 Syrian pounds, so our salaries are much less now.”

Jordanian political figures denounced the heightened sanctions appropriately as “economic terrorism”, calling them “one of the most dangerous types of crimes against humanity.”

Syrian-American activist Johnny Achi has been back to Syria countless times during the war, including since early 2011. He has seen the effects of the war and also the effects of the sanctions. He told me:

These final sanctions have broken the back of Syrians, whom after 10 years of war are exhausted, resources depleted, and simply put, were looking forward to the rebuilding process and the economic recovery. And that is precisely what these sanctions are meant to stop. Any country, or entity that attempts to help Syria gets back on its feet, will too become a target of the brutal US sanctions.

In a nutshell, what they could not take from us by force, they’re trying to take by punishing and starving an entire population.

But we will always remain resisting. After all that we’ve been through, and all the sacrifices we paid, we have no choice but to continue to live free or die free.”

Indeed, the people of Syria are fighting for their country, families and future, at great personal expense. Meanwhile, the US does everything in its power to destroy their future, country and livelihoods.

Who is really the terrorist state here?

Venezuela To Take US Sanctions To ICC

Venezuela To Take US Sanctions To ICC

By Staff, Agencies

Venezuela vowed to take the United States to the International Criminal Court [ICC] in response to new unilateral sanctions imposed by Washington on the Latin American nation.

The administration in Washington introduced sanctions on Thursday that targeted Mexican companies and individuals for allegedly attempting to evade US restrictions on Venezuela’s oil sector.

“Washington continues to narrow the circle around Venezuela. They [the United States] believe that we cannot export oil and the Venezuelan people are left without food products, medicines, and petrol,” Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza wrote on his Twitter page later in the day.

“The UN multipolar system must respond. We will go the International Criminal Court over this case,” he added.

Venezuela descended into political turmoil after opposition figure Juan Guido unilaterally declared himself “interim president” of the country in January last year, and with Washington’s assistance and help from a small number of rogue soldiers, later launched a botched putsch against the elected government. There was also an attempt at assassinating the legitimately-elected President Nicolas Maduro with a drone in 2018.

Guaido’s self-proclamation and his coup received backing from the US administration.

Washington has imposed several rounds of crippling sanctions against the oil-rich nation aimed at ousting Maduro and bringing Guaido to power instead.

The sanctions, which include the illegal confiscation of Venezuelan assets abroad and an economic blockade, have caused enormous suffering for millions of people in the country.

In yet another show of animosity toward the government in Caracas, a group of US-backed mercenaries attempted to intrude into the northern Venezuelan state of La Guaira on speedboats last month, but the country’s military foiled the attack, killing eight of the armed men and arresting several others.

One of the two US citizens arrested during the marine incursion said in a public interrogation on Venezuelan state TV that the purpose of the military operation had been to seize an airport in Caracas, kidnap Maduro, and take him to the US.

The contract under which the mercenaries carried out the attack bore Guaido’s signature as well as those of other opposition figures.

In a similar move, Iran, which is also under harsh US sanctions, opened a case at the Hague-based court in 2018, calling on the organization to suspend unilateral economic sanctions imposed by Washington after US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the 2015 international nuclear deal.

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.

عنصريّة… هزائم… فشل… تنتج «الربيع الأميركيّ» ثم…؟

العميد د. أمين محمد حطيط

منذ أن انتصرت أميركا في الحرب العالمية الثانية، سارعت إلى فرض شبه وصاية واحتلال واقعي على أوروبا وسعت إلى الهيمنة على كلّ المعمورة ونصّبت نفسها قائدة للعالم، معتقدة أنّ «الله اختارها لتقوم بهذه الوظيفة» من أجل «نشر الحرية والديمقراطية» بين الدول والشعوب، ورفعت شعار «حقوق الإنسان» إلى الحدّ الذي أجازت لنفسها ان تتدخل وتعاقب كلّ من تتهمه بأنه خرق هذه المبادئ وأهدر سلامة أو كرامة مواطنيه. متناسية أنها دولة قامت في الأصل على القتل والاغتصاب والإبادة والتهجير…

ومن المفيد التذكير هنا بأنّ ما يُطلق عليه اليوم اسم الولايات المتحدة الأميركية هي نتاج عمليات متلاحقة بدأت بعد اكتشاف الأرض بهجرة الأوروبيين البيض إليها، وانتهت بإقامة الدولة الحالية بعد الإبادة التي تعرّض لها سكان البلاد الأصليون (أسموهم الهنود الحمر ظناً منهم بأنّ الأرض المكتشفة هي الهند ذات السكان ذوي البشرة التي تميل إلى الحمرة) إبادة رافقها نقل أو استقدام أفارقة من ذوي البشرة السمراء أو السوداء ليكونوا عمالاً وخدماً لهم في مزارعهم وحقولهم. وهكذا نشأت الشخصية الأميركية وتجذّرت فيها النزعة العنصرية التي تجعل من الأبيض سيداً والأسود عبداً والأحمر شخصاً لا يستحق الحياة. وانّ أهمّ وأخطر ما في الشخصية الأميركية نزعتان داخلية قائمة على العنصرية والتمييز بين المواطنين، وفوقية تسلطية قائمة على النزعة الاستعمارية والهيمنة على الشعوب والدول الأجنبية. نزعتان تحكمتا بسلوك أميركا منذ نشأتها ولا زالتا تتحكمان بسياستها وسلوكها داخلياً وخارجياً.

بيد أنّ سياسة التمييز العنصري في الداخل كانت تواجه بين الحقبة والحقبة باحتجاجات وأعمال رفض تصل إلى حدود الثورة وتتوصّل في بعض الأحيان إلى انتزاع قدر من الحقوق لغير البيض، لكنها لم تصل حتى اليوم إلى انتزاع الحق بالمساواة بين المواطنين وبقي التمييز العنصري قائماً رغم تشدّق حكومة الولايات المتحدة الأميركية بحقوق الإنسان وعلى سبيل المثال نجد انّ السود الذين يصل عددهم اليوم في أميركا إلى 1/8 من السكان ليس لهم في الوظائف العامة أكثر من 1/20 وليس لهم إلا عضوين اثنين من 100 عضو في مجلس الشيوخ و10% من النواب. أما الأخطر فليس ما يظهر في الوظائف إنما ما يكمن في نفوس البيض ضدّ السود من نظرة فوقية وازدراء واتهام بالكسل والبلاهة ما يجعل العلاقة بين الطرفين غير ودية وغير سليمة في اكثر الأحيان، وأكثر ما تجلى مؤخراً نموذج عن هذا الأمر ما جاء على لسان ترامب عندما كال الاتهامات والتشنيع ضدّ أوباما وسلوكه وهو سلفه في رئاسة الدولة وهي اتهامات تنضح منها العنصرية بأبشع صورها. أما المثل الأخير الأبشع الراهن للعنصرية الأميركية فقد ظهر في الوحشية التي أقدم فيها شرطي أبيض على خنق مواطن أسود حتى الموت في مشهد شديد الإيلام مثير للأسى والحزن المصحوب بالغضب والاستنكار رفضاً لهذه الوحشية.

وفي مفعول تراكمي أدّت جريمة الشرطي الأبيض إلى إطلاق موجة من الاحتجاجات الشعبية ضدّ التمييز العنصري وضدّ أداء السلطات المحلية والمركزية التي كان فيروس كورونا قد فضح عجزها وتقصيرها وأظهر وهن النظام الصحي المعتمد في أميركا فضلاً عن الخفة والسطحية التي عالج بها المسؤولون بدءاً من ترامب، الوباء على صعيد أميركا كلها ما أدّى إلى إصابة ما يكاد يلامس المليوني شخص من أصل 6 ملايين مصاب في كلّ العالم ووفاة أكثر من 100 ألف من أصل 370 في كلّ العالم. وبات السؤال المطروح الآن هل يتحوّل جورج فلويد (المواطن من أصل أفريقي الذي خنقه الشرطي الأبيض) إلى بوعزيزي أميركا وتتحوّل مدينة مينيابوليس الأميركية إلى مهد للربيع الأميركي كما كانت مدينة سيدي بوزيد التونسية مهداً لما أسمي ربيعاً عربياً وظهر أنه الحريق العربي؟ سؤال جدير بالطرح والاهتمام خاصة إذا عرجنا على أكثر من ملف وموضوع تتخبّط فيه أميركا وتحصد منه نتائج سلبية.

بالعودة إلى واقع الحال الأميركي دولياً فإننا نجد أنّ أميركا تعاني اليوم من فشل وإخفاق وهزائم في الخارج لا تحجبها المكابرة ولا يمكن لإعلام او لحرب نفسيّة إخفاءها، وتعاني من صعوبات في الداخل لا يمكن لأحد ان يتجاوزها ولا يمكن لمليارات الدولارات التي سلبتها من الخليج ان تحجبها، فإذا جمع حصاد الخارج السيّئ إلى أوضاع الداخل السلبية كان من المنطقي ان يطرح السؤال الملحّ «أميركا إلى أين؟» وكيف سيكون وضعها كدولة متحدة وكيف سيكون موقعها في العالم؟ لأنه من الطبيعي ان يفكر المراقب بأنّ الهزائم والاضطرابات لا بدّ أن تلقي بظلها الثقيل على الكيان ودوره لهذا يبرّر طرح السؤال حول مصير أميركا الذي بات تحت علامة استفهام؟

قبل الإجابة نعود للتوقف عند الهزائم الأميركية في الخارج والتي تسبّبت في تآكل الهيبة الأميركية وتراجع قوة الردع الأميركي نتيجة فشل أميركا في أكثر من ملف في طليعتها عدوانها على دول وشعوب الشرق الأوسط خاصة العراق وسورية واليمن، وعجزها رغم الحروب المتعددة الأنواع التي شنّتها وتشنّها من عسكرية إلى إرهابية إلى نفسية إلى اقتصادية وسياسية، رغم كلّ ذلك لم تستطع إسقاط محور المقاومة الذي وجه لها مؤخراً صفعة قاسية في قاعدة «عين الأسد»، صفعة أنزلتها صواريخ إيران الباليستية، وركلة مؤلمة في فنزويلا حملتها ناقلات النفط الإيرانية. صفعة وركلة كانت قد سبقتهما سلسلة من الهزائم الميدانية بدءاً من حرب 2006 في لبنان وصولاً إلى سورية واليمن ومروراً بالعراق بحيث باتت أميركا تضع في رأس أولوياتها اليوم البحث عن انسحاب آمن من المنطقة يحفظ ماء الوجه.

أما على الجبهة مع الصين فإنّ أميركا تحصد مزيداً من الإخفاق مع كلّ موقف تطلقه مهدّدة الصين بشيء ما، وبات من المسلّم به انّ الصين تفعل وتتقدّم وانّ أميركا تصرخ وتتراجع، ولن يكون المستقبل إلا حاملاً أخباراً أشدّ سوءاً لأميركا مما مضى على الصعيد الاقتصادي، وسيكون أمرّ وأدهى إذا فكرت أميركا بالمواجهة العسكرية حيث يؤكد الخبراء الأميركيون انّ هزيمة استراتيجية عظيمة تنتظر أميركا إذا حاربت الصين عسكرياً.

وعلى صعيد العلاقات مع روسيا فقد بات من المتوافق عليه انّ كلّ الحصار والتهميش الذي فرضته أميركا على روسيا ذهب أدراج الرياح مع تقدّم الأخيرة من الباب السوري لتحتلّ موقعاً متقدّماً على الساحة الدولية مكّنها من دون خوف أن تمارس حق الفيتو في مجلس الأمن من دون خشية من أميركا، كما مكّنها من تقديم المساعدة العسكرية للحكومة السورية لإفشال العدوان الإرهابي عليها المدعوم أميركياً.

يبقى أن نذكر بحال العزلة الدولية التي أوقعت أميركا – ترامب نفسها فيها بخروجها من أكثر اتفاق أو معاهدة دولية وتنكرها لقرارات مجلس الأمن وتصرفها خلافاً لقواعد القانون الدولي العام.

أما في الداخل فإنّ أهمّ واخطر ما تواجهه أميركا الآن هو تلك الاضطرابات التي نرى انّ إطلاق اسم «الربيع الأميركي» عليها أسوة بالتسمية الأميركية لما حصل في الشرق الأوسط وأسمي بـ «الربيع العربي» هي تسمية معقولة. هذه الاضطرابات والاحتجاجات التي تكاد تلامس الثورة والتي يرافقها النهب والإحراق والسرقة والقتل والتي تمدّدت الآن خارج مينيابولس (موقع الجريمة ومهد الاضطرابات) لتصل إلى 19 ولاية ولا زالت قيد التوسّع إلى درجة التخوّف من شمولها كلّ الولايات الأميركية الـ 50، ما شكل خطراً جدياً باتت الحكومة الأميركية تخشاه فعلياً جعلها تلجأ إلى فرض إعلان التعبئة في بعض الولايات والاستعانة بالحرس الوطني والجيش في ولايات أخرى، وباتت كلها تشكّل نذر شؤم على أميركا لا يُعرف إلى أين ستودي بالنظام الأميركي الذي يعاني كثيراً أمام تراجع الاقتصاد وتفشي البطالة وإفلاس الشركات واشتداد الغضب الشعبي دون أن ننسى وجود نزعات انفصالية لدى بعض الولايات.

إنّ تراكم هزائم الخارج خاصة في وجه محور المقاومة والصين وروسيا كما تقدّم، مع التخبّط والفشل في الداخل والمعبّر عنه بالفشل في معالجة أزمة كورونا وتفشي البطالة إلى حدّ بات فيه 40 مليون أميركي عاطل عن العمل وإفلاس شركات وإقفال أخرى بما ينذر بوضع اقتصادي صعب يفاقم العثرات الاجتماعية، ثم انفجار الغضب الشعبي إلى حدّ الوصول إلى البيت الأبيض واجتياز الحاجز الأمني الأول أمامه ما أقلق ترامب ودفعه إلى الاختباء في طوابق تحت الأرض وغموض الرؤية في معالجة الأحداث… كلها مسائل تبرّر السؤال هل كيان الولايات المتحدة الأميركية في خطر؟ وهل وحدتها مهدّدة؟ وهل سيتأثر موقعها دولياً بكلّ هذه الأحداث؟

أسئلة جدية لا بدّ من طرحها في ظلّ ما نسمع ونقرأ ونراقب؟ ويُضاف السؤال الآخر هل ستشرب أميركا من كأس ربيعي أميركي خاص بها كما سقت شعوب الشرق الأوسط مما أسمته ربيعاً وكان حريقاً التهم الأخضر واليابس؟ نعتقد ذلك… وعلى أيّ حال انّ أميركا بعد الهزائم الخارجية والانفجارات والعثرات الداخلية لن تكون هي أميركا التي تسيطر على العالم، هذا إذا بقيت موحّدة، وهو أمر نشكّ به.

*أستاذ جامعي – خبير استراتيجي.

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.

Did Trump just cancel a potential double-war?

Source

Did Trump just cancel a potential double-war?
Just as Hezbollah destroyed the myth of Israeli impunity, Iran destroyed the myth of US impunity.

At this time of writing, it is too early to declare the danger over, but at least three out of five Iranian tankers have made it safely to Venezuela (confirmation from TeleSur and PressTV). Furthermore, while we should never say “never”, it appears exceedingly unlikely that the US would let three tankers pass only to then try to impede the arrival of the other two. So it ain’t over until its over, but as of right now things look way better than last week.

Besides, this is mostly a symbolic issue. While these 5 tankers will make a difference, it won’t be a huge one, especially considering the devastating consequences which the US sanctions, sabotage and subversion have inflicted on Venezuela.

Still, symbols are important, if only because they create a precedent. In fact, I would argue that the latest climbdown by Trump is no different than all his other climbdowns: Trump has had a very consistent record of threatening fire and brimstone before quietly deflating walking away. And since he did that many times now, we have to wonder whether this strategy is effective or not?

One could argue that this strategy could be described by saying that you put the maximum pressure on the other side in the hope that the bluff will entice the adversary to fold. This could be a semi-credible argument where it not for a very simple but crucial problem: so far the other guys have never folded. In other words, Trump’s bluff has been called over and over again, and each time Trump had to quietly deflate.

Some will say that this only proves that Trump is truly a peace-loving President who, unlike his predecessors, does not want to go to war. But then, what about the cruise missile strikes on Syria? What about the murder of Soleimani?

Truth be told, the kindest thing we can say about this strategy (assuming that it is a strategy to begin with, not the evidence of a total lack of one) is that it is tantamount to yelling “fire!” in a crowded movie theater: the fact that Trump did not set any movie theater ablaze hardly justifies his yelling “fire” in such a dangerous environment. The perfect example of this kind of irresponsible behavior is the murder of General Soleimani which truly brought the US and Iran a millimeter away from a real, full-scale war.

Furthermore, while I salute Trump’s climbing down following the Iranian strikes, I also believe that in doing so he hurt the international image of the US. Why? Think about this: this is the first time ever (if I am not mistaken) that the US was the object of a major military strike coming from another state-actor and did not retaliate. In the past and until this Spring, the US always held the view that if anybody dares to mess with it this would result in very serious consequences. Thus the US upheld a world order in which some where a lot more equal than others. Specifically, “others” had to meekly accept US strikes and shut up whereas Uncle Shmuel could strike left and right and expect no retaliation.

By “accepting” the Iranian counter-strike, Trump did essentially place an “equal” sign between Iran and the US. He probably never understood that, but in the region this was understood by all.

Just as Hezbollah destroyed the myth of Israeli impunity, Iran destroyed the myth of US impunity.

Still, I will always prefer the politician who does not start a war (for whatever reason) to one who would. I also have no doubt whatsoever that Hillary would have started one, or even several, wars. But the fact that Hillary would have been even worse than Trump is hardly a reason to start fawning about Trump’s brilliant “5D chess” genius or peace-loving policies…

Trump reminds of a guy pointing a gun a people in the street only to later say “but it was a toy gun, I never meant to really shoot anybody”. This is definitely better than shooting people with a real gun, but this is hardly a sign of maturity or intelligence.

The other problem with this “strategy” (let’s assume for argument’s sake that this is a strategy of some kind): each time the “indispensable nation” and “sole hyperpower” has to climb down, it increasingly looks like a paper tiger. Not looking like such a paper tiger is probably the mean reason behind Michael Ledeen’s famous wordsEvery ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business“. In a strictly evil and imperialistic sense, Ledeen’s strategy makes a lot more sense than what Trump has been doing.

As Marx famously said, “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce“. The outcome of what some now call the “Battle of Macuto Bay” is a perfect example of this: if the Bay of Pigs was the “root case” then the disaster in Grenada was the tragedy and the Battle of Macuto Bay the real farce.

Humor can be a devastating weapon and anybody who has studied the late Soviet Union (in the late Brezhnev years and after) knows how the Russian people ridiculed the Soviet leaders with literally thousands of jokes.

A real imperialist would much rather be hated than ridiculed, and while Trump himself probably does not realize that he is the laughingstock of the planet, his aides and deep state bosses most definitely do and that is very, very dangerous.

Why?

Because the pressure to, once again, “ pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall” increases with each climbdown (see my article “Each “Click” Brings Us One Step Closer to the “Bang!” for a fuller discussion of this).

Besides, finding an even smaller and weaker country than Venezuela will be hard (maybe the Island of Saba? or Grenada again? who knows?). And potentially very dangerous.

The other problem is predictability. Any international system requires that its most powerful actors be predictable. In contrast, when a major international actors acts in what appears to be unpredictable, irrational or irresponsible manner, this puts the entire stability of the system at risk.

This, by the way, is also why it is so disastrous that the US has withdrawn from so many international organizations or treaties: the participation in international organizations and treaties indicate that the US is willing to play by the same rules as everybody else. The fact that the US is ditching so many of its former international obligations only shows that the US has gone rogue and is from now on totally unpredictable.

Finally, there are also lessons for Moscow here, the main one being that when confronted with a determined adversary, the Empire tries to bluff, but eventually folds. True, Moscow has to be much more careful than Tehran simply because the consequences of a US-Russian war would be dramatically worse than even a major conflict in the Middle-East. Yet it is also true that over the past years the Russian armed forces did have the time to prepare for such a conflict and that now Russia is ready for pretty much anything the US could try to throw at her, at least in purely military terms.

In contrast to the military posture of Russia, the political environment in Russia has changed for the worse: there is now a potentially very dangerous “hardline” opposition to Putin which I have christened the “6th column”, as opposed to the liberal and pro-western 5th column. What these two “columns” have in common is that they both will categorically oppose pretty much anything and everything Putin does. The 6th column, in particular, has a seething hatred for Putin which is even more rabid than what the liberal 5th column usually express. Check out this excellent video by Ruslan Ostashko, who prefers the term “emo-Marxists” and who very accurately describes these folks. Whether we think of them as 6th-columnists or emo-Marxists does not matter, what matters is that these folks are eager to act like a soundboard for any and all anti-Putin rumors and fakes. While Putin certainly has his flaws, and while the economic policies of the Medvedev, and now Mishustin, government are a far cry from what most Russians would want, it is also true that these two “columns” are objectively doing the bidding of the Empire, which could present a real problem if the current pandemic-induced economic crisis in Russia is not tackled more effectively by the government.

I have always said that Iran, while being much weaker than Russia, has consistently shown much more courage in its dealings with the Empire than Russia. Furthermore, Iran’s policies are primarily dictated by moral and spiritual considerations (like in the case of Iran’s principled stance on occupied Palestine) while Russian policies are much more “pragmatic” (which is really a euphemism for self-serving). But then, Iran is an Islamic Republic whereas Russia still has to develop some kind of unifying and original worldview.

Conclusion:

For all his innumerable negative character traits and other flaws, it remains true that Trump has not launched a major war (so far). Yes, he has brought the world to the brink several times, but so far he has not plunged the world into a major conflict. How much of the credit for this truly should go personally to him is very debatable (maybe cooler heads in the military prevailed, I think of folks like General Mattis who, reportedly, was the one who stopped the US from seriously attacking Syria and settled for a symbolic strike). Some Russian analysts (Andrei Sidorov) even believe that the US is in no condition to fight any war, no matter how small. Furthermore, most (all?) Russian analysts also believe that the US is fully committed to a full-spectrum information and economic war to try to economically strangle both Russia and China. I think that it would be fair to say that nobody in Russia believes that the relationship with Trump’s US can, or will, improve. The tone in China is also changing, especially since the US has now launched a major anti-China strategic PSYOP. In other words, the US is merrily continuing down its current road which leads it to a simultaneous confrontation with not one, or even two, countries, but with a list of countries which seems to grow every day. So while it is true that in this case Trump appears to have canceled two wars, we should not assume that he won’t soon start one, if only to deflect the blame for his total mismanagement of the COVID19 crisis. Should that happen, we can only hope that all the “resistance countries” and movement will provide as much support as possible to whomever the Empire attacks next.

Breaking: Angry Venezuela ambassador slams US Iran threat

ناقلات إيران تعلن تصدع القطبية الأميركيّة!

د. وفيق إبراهيم

اختراق الناقلات الإيرانية محيطَيْن وخمسة بحار وحصاراً أميركياً غربياً – خليجياً مفروضاً على إيران منذ اربعين عاماً لا يندرج في اطار تحدّ أحادي يحدث مرة ويعجز في أخرى.

إنه إعلان عن سقوط مرحلة العصر الأميركي الكامل الذي هيمن على العلاقات الدولية منذ سقوط الاتحاد السوفياتي في 1989.

هذه المرحلة التي استمرّت حتى 2020 قطعت أنفاس العالم في ثلاثة عقود سقط فيها ملايين القتلى في اجتياحات عسكرية أميركية في أميركا الجنوبية وآسيا الوسطى في افغانستان الى العراق وسورية واليمن والخليج ومصر والسودان والجزائر وأفريقيا وصولاً الى بحر الصين وجنوب شرق آسيا.

لقد تمكن الأميركيون في هذه المرحلة من أمركة البحار والمحيطات وتدمير الدول وبعثرة الشرق الأوسط وفرض الحروب بأسلوب الحصار والمقاطعات الاقتصادية حتى أصبحت هذه القرارات الأميركيّة الخارجة على القانون الدولي وتطبقها من دون اعتراض.

فتحوّلت المحيطات والبحار الى ملاعب للبحرية الأميركية وميادين الدول ساحات لفيالقها، فأمركت البحار والمحيطات وميادين الدول وسط غياب روسي وصمت صيني وشرود أوروبي.

لكن الأميركيين ركزوا في هذه المرحلة على اسقاط الجمهورية الإيرانية التي اعلنت منذ انتصار الإمام الخميني على الحاكم السابق شاه إيران في 1979 التمرد على مسألتين هما النفوذ الأميركي ورفض الاحتلال الاسرائيلي لفلسطين المحتلة. وهذا اساء للخطة الأميركية بإنهاء القضية الفلسطينية وإنشاء حلف عربي اسرائيلي للمزيد من ارساء القطبية الأميركية الاحادية في العالم.

لم تكتفِ إيران بالتمرد السياسي على المشروع الأميركي. بل سارعت الى ملء الفراغ المصري الذي أحدثه الرئيس المصري السابق انور السادات الذي صالح «اسرائيل» ساحباً مصر من حالة العداوة معها الى مرحلة التحالف، فأرسلت مساعدات كبيرة ودائمة للمنظمات الفلسطينية ودعمت العراق وسورية عسكرياً معادياً في حروبهما ضد الأميركيين والمنظمات الإرهابية. وساندت مجابهة الأميركيين في افغانستان واليمن، لكن علاقتها بحزب الله شكلت العمود الفقري لنمو مقاومات شكلت حالة جهادية ثابتة لمجابهة الأميركيين والاسرائيليين، ونشرت فكراً تحررياً في الشرق الاوسط وآسيا الوسطى وصولاً الى أميركا الجنوبية. بذلك نجح الإيرانيون ببناء علاقات راسخة في الشرق الاوسط وآسيا وافريقيا وأميركا الجنوبية وكادت تؤسس نتوءاً كبيراً في المناطق الاسلامية في ساراييفو والبوسنة وألبانيا لولا الاستخدام الأميركي لمهارات السعودية في بناء الفتن المذهبيّة لعرقلة التوسّع الإيراني.

إن هذه الإنجازات الإيرانية تقاطعت مع تطبيق عقوبات أميركية عليها هي الأقسى في تاريخ العلاقات الدولية وكان بإمكانها خنق النظام السياسي الإيراني وإسقاطه لولا نجاحه في بناء صناعات بديلة واسلحة كافية لصد الهجمات وتطوير الزراعة والخدمات.

لقد تطوّرت هذه المبارزات الإيرانية – الأميركية وسط بداية استيقاظ روسية وتوسّع اقتصادي صيني ونجاح حلفاء إيران في الشرق العربي وتحول حزب الله الى أيقونة الحركات الجهادية حتى ان كوبا وفنزويلا اللتين كانتا مكتفيتين بصمود صامد لا يعترضان عليه استفادتا من التمرد الإيراني على الهمجية الأميركية وابتدأتا بالاعتراض العلني الإعلامي مع إبداء استعداديهما لمقاومة الأميركيين عسكرياً ودعم إيران بكل السبل.

يتبين أن إيران نجحت في رفض الهيمنة الأميركية عليها، ببناء تحالفات قوية، استفادت منها روسيا التي دخلت طرفاً اساسياً في ضرب الإرهاب في سورية، بداية من خلال الدور الإيراني والسوري تطوّر لاحقاً الى دور روسي جيوبوليتيكي خاص بها.

كذلك الحال بالنسبة للصين، التي كانت تتحلى بصبر أيوب إزاء الاستفزازات الأميركية العسكرية في بحر الصين وكوريا الشمالية والاقتصادية في الأسواق العالمية التي كان الأميركيون يحاولون منع السلع الصينية من التموضع في حركتها التجارية.

لقد استفادت هذه القوى الكبرى من الاختراق الإيراني الواسع للنفوذ الأميركي فبنت عليه وبدأت تسجل الرفض تلو الآخر للقرارات الأميركية الجائرة، لكنها لم تصل كإيران الى مرحلة صدامات عسكرية متفرّقة معها، لم يفعلها احد مع الأميركيين مباشرة منذ 1990.

صحيح ان روسيا اقتطعت بالقوة مناطق فيها غالبية روسية من أوكرانيا وتحرّكت في جورجيا، لكنها لم تدرك ما فعلته إيران من قصف لأهداف أميركية خالصة في العراق، وتحدتها في بحر الخليج بأسلوب العين بالعين والسن بالسن، واتهمها الإعلام الغربي بقصف اهم مؤسسة نفطية سعودية لها علاقة رحمية بالغرب هي ارامكو، لكن إيران نفت وتبنت العملية اليمن في صنعاء.

ضمن هذه المعطيات ووسط تأثير جائحة الكورونا في تهدئة العلاقات الدولية المحتربة، أرسلت إيران في حركة اخترقت فيها الحصار الأميركي الذي يستهدفها ناقلات تحمل وفوداً الى فنزويلا المحاصرة بدورها واخترقت بحار الخليج والأحمر والمتوسط والمحيط الأطلسي الى بحر الكاريبي قبالة فنزويلا لتفرغ حمولتها هناك، ولم تأبه للتهديد الأميركي بقصفها. كما ارسلت ايضاً ناقلات للصين من طريق بحر الصين.

هذا يعني ضربة استراتيجية لعقوبات أميركية كادت ان تصبح اهم من القوانين الأممية وتلتزم بها اوروبا ومعظم آسيا واوستراليا وكندا وبعض وافريقيا والشرق الاوسط.

لذلك القوة إن ناقلات إيران اخترقت حصارين أميركيين على بلادها أولاً وفنزويلا ثانياً وفتحت طريقاً بحرية على الصين كانت ممنوعة عليها منذ 1980.

وهذا قابل للاقتداء به عالمياً من قبل الدول المصابة بعقوبات أميركية بما يعني أن عصر الرعب من الأميركي بدأ يتراجع وله تداعيات هامة على مستوى القطبية الأميركية بما يؤدي الى تصدعها كأكبر قوة معروفة في التاريخ الى مستوى قوة أساسية توجد قوى أخرى تنافسها بتوازن.

إن هذا الاختراق الإيراني مقدمة للتصدع الأميركي المرتقب بعد كورونا والجسر الذي يربط بين قوى تحالف جديد هي الصين وروسيا وإيران، التي تبدأ مسيرتها لإعادة النفوذ الى القانون الدولي بديلاً من قانون القوة الأميركية الذي حكم العالم بهمجيّة غير مسبوقة منذ ثلاث عقود.

فهل بدأت رحلة إيران نحو القطبية العالمية؟

Cuban President: Iranian Tankers Break ‘Criminal’ US Blockade on Venezuela

Cuban President: Iranian Tankers Break ‘Criminal’ US Blockade on Venezuela

By Staff, Agencies

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel said that the Iranian oil tankers’ arrival in Venezuela broke the US “unacceptable and criminal” blockade against the country.

The official Cuban news agency Prensa Latina quoted Diaz-Canel as making the remarks on Monday.

Earlier, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro thanked Iranian support, stressing that Caracas and Tehran are both after peace, and have right to do free trade.

Iran’s second oil tanker, Forest, arrived in Venezuela amid the US threats.

Forest entered the Exclusive Economic Zone [EEZ] of Venezuela early Sunday, met by the country’s navy.

It follows the first of five Iranian vessels carrying an estimated total of 1.53 barrels of gasoline between them, Sputnik reported.

The first vessel, ‘Fortune’, successfully reached Venezuela the day before and was escorted into the port by the Bolivarian Navy.

Three more oil tankers are expected to arrive in Venezuela from Iran. The five vessels are carrying an estimated 1.53 million barrels of gasoline between them.

Iran has warned of repercussions from the potential interception of Iranian tankers by the US.

On Saturday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the country is always entitled to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and warned that if his country’s oil tankers in the Caribbean or anywhere in the world get into trouble by the Americans, Tehran will definitely retaliate.

موسوي للميادين: ناقلات النفط تفتتح مرحلة جديدة.. لا لحصار بلد مقاوم

الميادين نت

24 أيار

موسوي: الإدارة الأميركية تمارس البلطجة بمصادرة المصافي الفنزويلية
موسوي: الإدارة الأميركية تمارس البلطجة بمصادرة المصافي الفنزويلية

الخبير والدبلوماسي السابق أمير موسوي يكشف للميادين أن إيران وحلفائها في محور المقاومة وأميركا اللاتينية، وضعوا سياسة جديدة، وقرروا ممارسة “سياسة واضحة وقوية ضد التصرفات الأميركية”.

قال الخبير الاستراتيجي والدبلوماسي الإيراني السابق أمير موسوي، للميادين، إن “أبرز رسالة يحملها إرسال الناقلات الإيرانية إلى فنزويلا هو رفض الحصار من الآن فصاعداً، مضيفاً أنه لو تم التعرض للناقلات بأي طريقة كانت “لتغير وجه العالم”.

وأوضح موسوي أن إرسال الناقلات “يفتح مرحلة جديدة عنوانها رفض حصار اي بلد مقاوم”، مبيناً أن إيران “وضعت سياسة جديدة بالتنسيق مع محور المقاومة ودول في أميركا اللاتينية”.

وأضاف موسوي أن “الاستعدادات كانت قائمة لردع اي تعرض أميركي للناقلات، والانتقام كان سيصبح سريعاً”، موضحاً أن الإيرانيين “جاهزون الآن لأي تحرك أميركي، وسيرصدون أي رد أميركي، وسيردون عليه ليس عسكرياً فقط”.

وكشف أن الإيرانيين “قرروا مع حلفائهم ممارسة سياسة واضحة وقوية ضد التصرفات الأميركية”، لافتاً إلى أن “الإدارة الأميركية بدأت تشعر بجدية إيران في المواجهة، وامتلاكها ما يخلط الاوراق”.

ورأى موسوي أن “الإدارة الأميركية تمارس البلطجة بمصادرة المصافي الفنزويلية”، ذلك لأن الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب “بات في مرحلة انزواء، وفقد مصداقيته بسبب سياستيه الداخلية والخارجية”، وفق موسوي.

ويأتي إرسال ناقلات النفط الإيرانية إلى فنزويلا، ليشكل بحسب موسوي “ضربة للولايات المتحدة”، وليكون “أكبر من هجوم عسكري أو قتل أميركيين”، مضيفاً أن “إيران متمسكة بشروطها، بعيداً عن العقوبات أو الضغوط الأميركية، وهي ازدادت قوة ودعماً لحلفائها”.

وشدّد موسوي على أن إيران وصلت “إلى مرحلة من الجاهزية ومواجهة أي مستجد، وعلى واشنطن التزام حدودها من اليوم وصاعداً”، لافتاً إلى أنه لا يمكن للتصعيد أن يحصل “لأن الرد سيكون حاضراً، والجاهزية موجودة لدى محور المقاومة كافة”.

وأكد موسوي أن “إيران أثبتت أنها دائماً إلى جانب حلفائها أياً كان الثمن والضغوط”، بينما أثبت الأميركيون أنهم “ليسوا أهلاً للثقة، وبالتالي الشروط الإيرانية ستكون أصعب”.

وأوضح أن “هناك الكثير من ناقلات النفط الإيرانية التي ستتوجه إلى الصين تأكيداً على كسر الحصار”، حيث “اشترت الصين 10 ملايين برميل نفط من إيران نقلتها 5 ناقلات نفط إيرانية”.

وتوقع موسوي “تغييرات كثيرة في سياسة الإدارة الأميركية التي لم تعد مقبولة أبداً في المنطقة”، كما توقع “تطوراً هاماً حيال الحصار المفروض على قطاع غزة”. 

ووصلت، صباح اليوم الأحد، ناقلة الوقود الإيرانية “فورتيون” إلى المياه الاقتصادية الفنزويلية، بالتزامن مع دخول الناقلة “كلافيل” مضيق جبل طارق، في طريقها إلى كراكاس.

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AMERICA’S MEDDLING IN VENEZUELA HAS NO BOUNDARIES. AFTER A FAILED COUP ATTEMPT, TRYING TO INSTALL A BOGUS PRESIDENT AND IMPOSING CRIPPLING SANCTIONS, WILL IT EVER BE HELD TO ACCOUNT?

May 21, 2020, RT.com

-by Eva K Bartlett

America’s meddling in Venezuela has no boundaries. After a failed coup attempt, trying to install a bogus president, and imposing crippling sanctions, will it ever be held to account?

Venezuela is back in the news again, just weeks after yet another failed coup attempt that was almost certainly backed by the US. This time, it’s the American sanctions against the country that are making the headlines – measures that caused US company AT&T to shut down satellite TV provider, DirecTV, thereby depriving Venezuelans of a number of foreign channels.

The irony, of course, is that while it’s US sanctions that are the cause of this shutdown, had it been President Nicolás Maduro who closed DirecTV, you can bet Western media headlines would be screaming about censorship of the media (although most were rather quiet when Estonia shut down Sputnik.).

The impact of this latest development will be a major inconvenience for most of Venezuela’s poorest – another example of how the sanctions are not merely targeting the administration but the people themselves. US sanctions against Syria, Venezuela, Iran and a long list of other targeted nations have deprived them of access to vital medicines, medical equipment, income and more.

As I noted in a prior article, the Center for Economic and Policy Research estimated that a staggering 40,000 Venezuelans died in 2017 and 2018 due to sanctions. This shameful statistic lends weight to former UN expert Alfred de Zayas naming sanctions as a form of terrorism, “because they invariably impact, directly or indirectly, the poor and vulnerable.”

So well done, America, for adding another layer of misery to the heap you’ve already created.

The plan to abduct Maduro

Just a couple of weeks beforehand, on May 3 and 4, Venezuelan forces had prevented 60 paramilitaries on two speedboats – including Americans – from carrying out their plan to kidnap Venezuela’s president and replace him with Juan Guaido, who the US and Canada have been attempting to install as president since early 2019.

Guaido, the self-appointed ‘interim president’, was aware of the plot, which involved a contract of $213million according to documents that have entered the public domain. The US and Canadian authorities were most likely in the loop, too. 

Guaido first announced himself as ‘interim president’ in January 2019, to the surprise of most Venezuelans and with no election. Most countries rejected this breach of Venezuela’s sovereignty, with only a smattering of Western terrorist supporting countries that advocate regime change – and some nations that they bully – endorsing him. 

A month later, there were failed Western-backed attempts to ram ‘aid trucks’ (loaded with wires and nails) through Colombia’s border with Venezuela, the goal being to vilify the government for failing to accept what was clearly not aid (and was not coming via a proper channel either).

In March, the unpopular Guaido was booed and fled from a pro-government area in Caracas, ironically with Venezuelan security protecting him from an angry crowd. In the same month, I tried to see the supposedly massive pro-opposition rallies I had heard of in the capital, but instead came across huge pro-government demonstrations

In April, Guaido and a violent right-wing opposition leader, with the backing of the US, attempted a coup— an attempt clearly rejected by masses of Venezuelans. Fast forward to January this year and Guaido failed to be re-elected as president of the country’s National Assembly.gwedo

Guaido attempted to scale a fence before the vote took place. His claims that he was barred from entering have been disputed. (Reuters) via Venezuelanalysis.com

In spite of the absurd amount of backing Guaido has received from Western governments, it seems even some opposition within Venezuela don’t want him, and would prefer to return to dialogue with Maduro’s government.

Perhaps this was down to Guaido staffers’ alleged involvement in embezzling ‘humanitarian aid’ funds. Photos taken with  Colombian drug traffickers and paramilitary leaders probably didn’t help his cause, either.

After so many Guaido false starts and flops, and their failure to bring him an iota of legitimacy, surely it’s time for the US and Canadian administrations to accept they are flogging a dead horse?

What’s the UN doing?

On Tuesday, Venezuela’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Samuel Moncada, tweeted: “May 20 at 3:00 pm, the UN Security Council will debate the situation in Venezuela. The meeting was requested by Russia after the terrorist armed attack carried out from Colombia on May 3. We will denounce to the world the aggression against our people.”

While I do of course support Venezuela’s desire to denounce the attempted coup, and the bloodshed that could have prevailed – including of civilians – had the paramilitaries been successful, forgive me for being cynical that justice will prevail.

After all, history has shown that nothing is done when the US and allies commit war crimes in Syria. Likewise, they have never been held accountable by the UN for what they did in Iraq. And what about the war crimes of Israel against Palestinian civilians, and the Saudis against the Yemenis?

Sadly, I don’t have an answer as to what’s a better option than attempts for justice and accountability via the UN.

But I know this much: this won’t be the last failed attempt to overthrow Venezuela’s government, and it won’t be the last time the country and its allies have to condemn immoral and illegal US and Canadian acts.

So vile are these governments that even now, while the world is focused on dealing with Covid-19, they are scheming to bring more misery to the people of Venezuela. They should hang their heads in shame, but they’ve got none.  

RELATED LINKS:

My Venezuela 2019 Youtube playlist

-Venezuelan woman: “We didn’t vote for you, Guaido. Trump, stop f*cking us over. [VIDEO]

-Reminder of Corporate Media Lies on Venezuela [VIDEO]

Venezuela isn’t Syria… but America’s war tactics are the same

US is manufacturing a crisis in Venezuela so that there is chaos and ‘needed’ intervention

Western leaders, screw your ‘Sanctions Target the Regime’ blather: Sanctions KILL PEOPLE

Canada and the Coup Attempt Against Venezuela, by Arnold August

الليلة الفاصلة في الكاريبيّ… وإيران تربح الجولة

ناصر قنديل

في توقيت سياسي غاية في الدقة، حيث التهدئة تسود ملفات الاشتباك الأميركيّ الإيرانيّ في المنطقة، وعشية الإحياء العالميّ ليوم القدس الذي أطلقه قائد الثورة ومؤسس الجمهورية الإسلامية في إيران الإمام الخميني قبل اثنين وأربعين عاماً، اختارت طهران الخوض في أكبر تحدّ عالميّ بينها وبين واشنطن، عبر إرسال خمس ناقلات نفط عملاقة محمّلة بالبنزين إلى فنزويلا المحاصرة من قبل الأميركيّين والخاضعة مثل إيران لحزمة عقوبات موجعة، فيما كانت طائرات إيرانيّة تابعة لشركة مهران للطيران التي تطالها عقوبات أميركيّة مكرّرة ومشدّدة، تهبط في فنزويلا حاملة مستلزمات إصلاح صناعة مشتقات النفط الفنزويليّ المعطلة، وتعود، وفقاً للاتهامات الأميركيّة، محمّلة بأطنان من الذهب الفنزويلي، وربما بكميات من مادة الثوريوم المشعة التي توازي أهمية اليورانيوم في عمل المفاعلات النووية، وحيث فنزويلا الدولة الخامسة في العالم في إنتاجها.

خلال سبعة أيام تلت انطلاق الناقلات الإيرانيّة المحملة بما يعادل 45 مليون دولار من البنزين، كان الاختبار الأول في مضيق جبل طارق حيث عبرت الناقلات منذ ثلاثة أيام، ووصلت طليعتها الناقلة فورتشن الليلة إلى حدود المياه الإقليمية لفنزويلا، فيما عدد من المدمّرات الأميركية يرابط في خليج الكاريبي مشرفاً على منطقة العبور التي اجتازتها الناقلة الأولى من دون وقوع أي حادث تصادم مع الدوريات الأميركيّة بعد تهديد إيراني واضح وصارم، برد غير عادي إذا تعرّضت ناقلاتها لما وصفته بالقرصنة الأميركية، والردّ الذي بدأ التلويح بأنه سيتضمّن احتجاز عشرات الناقلات في الخليج، تطوّر إلى التهديد باستهداف كل الحاملات والمدمّرات والسفن الحربية الأميركية في نطاق 2000 كلم من إيران.

أعلنت وزارة الخزانة الأميركيّة حزمة عقوبات جديدة على إيران، ليل أمس، في خطوة وصفها الكثير من المحللين بديلاً عن التصادم الذي تسعى واشنطن لتفاديه، وتتهم طهران بالسعي إليه، والليلة ستكون مشابهة لليلة 27 تشرين الأول عام 1962 التي كان فيها العالم مستنفراً خشية وقوع تصادم سوفياتي أميركي في الكاريبي قابل للتحوّل إلى حرب نوويّة، في لحظة تجاذب حادة حول كوبا، قبل أن تظهر التسوية التي تضمّنت سحب الصواريخ الروسية النووية من كوبا مقابل تعهّد أميركي بإلغاء كل خطط غزو كوبا، وإذا واصل الأميركيون مراقبة ناقلات النفط الإيرانية عن بعد مكتفين بالعقوبات كردّ على الخطوة الإيرانيّة، فقد تكرست معادلة جديدة لقوة إيران من جهة، ولهوامش الصمود الفنزويليّ من جهة ثانية، ولتكامل المقدرات الإيرانية الفنزويلية في كسر معادلات الحصار المالي الأميركي، من جهة ثالثة، وهذا تحوّل خطير في معادلات القوة وفي مستقبل سلاح العقوبات، وإذا خاطرت أميركا باللجوء إلى القوة فنحن على موعد أعدّت له إيران وتريده، لكنها تريد أن تقع المواجهة بمبادرة أميركية، ضمن خطة اللعب على حافة الهاوية، حيث ستكون مواجهة فاصلة شاملة تندلع في ليلة مقبلة تحمل إسم القدس، ولذلك كله تبدو واشنطن وقد قامت بنقلة خاطئة على رقعة الشطرنج، ستوصلها بلغة اللعبة إلى خسارة القلعة، أو كش ملك.

إيران تظهر مرة جديدة أن الكمون الذي رافق تحرّكاتها منذ وباء كورونا، وجمّد خططها لإخراج الأميركيّين من المنطقة انطلاقاً من العراق، كان تأسيساً لتعديل خطط المواجهة، والذهاب إلى الأبعد مدى منها لرسم توازنات جديدة، ستخرج منها إيران رابح رابح مهما كان الردّ الأميركي، وسيخرج منها الأميركي خاسر خاسر مهما حاول تفادي الخسارة. وهذا معنى أن السياسة هي ذكاء

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

May 20, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tweet threat

If I could add at this point, the origins are that Venezuela didn’t wish to play ball with Washington anymore, specifically with the DEA back in 2005, squaring the circle of sorts, (or should that be a vicious circle cunningly used by Washington, because who is going to argue with that narrative, aka the war on terror). March: SOUTHCOM’s Adm. Faller: “There will be an increase in US military presence in the hemisphere later this year. This will include an enhanced presence of ships, aircraft, & security forces to reassure our partners… & counter a range of threats to include illicit narco-terrorism.” At the same time, the State dept released this https://twitter.com/StateDept/status/1260988270302777350 so the US could effectively carry out boardings under the guise of counterterrorism as well.

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

Then NatSouth concluded the following:

Under international law, every merchant ship must be registered with a flag state, which has jurisdiction over the vessel.  Hence, this time, the use of Iranian-flagged tankers, as a direct response from Washington’s latest version of restating “maximum pressure” campaign on enforcement of Iran and Venezuela sanctions, (back in Feb, literally the same language as in Aug 2019). There was talk back then of a naval embargo, which would a serious notch up in tensions. There was mention of the 4 U.S. warships in the Caribbean, the U.S. Navy tweeted about, but one the Preble went through the Panama Canal into the Pacific). https://twitter.com/USNavy/status/1261325507473391618

Pretty clear, isn’t it?

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

How likely is that?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do I mean by that?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Saker

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