The Removal Of Imran Khan and the Popular Push Back. How Pakistan Helped Foster “The War on Terrorism”

May 07, 2022

Global Research,

By Michael WelchJunaid S. Ahmad, and Prof Michel Chossudovsky

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“I am saying to you today, that for the first time, Pakistan’s policies won’t be for the few rich people, it will be for the poor, for our women, for our minorities, whose rights are not respected. My whole aim will be to protect our lower classes and to bring them up.”

–  Imran Khan, 2018 election campaign speech [1]

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In the early hours of April 9, the Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi, faced a no-confidence motion in the country’s National Assembly resulting in his removal from power. This was the first time ever that an official of his stature was removed in such a manner. [2]

What makes this move so geopolitically significant was the unique significance of this state as a square on the tabletop of the grand chessboard between the United States, and Russia and China.

On the one hand, Pakistan has traditionally used the country’s military and the intelligence services, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), as partners. Over the course of the last twenty years, the Islamic State was a leading local site from which to launch air and ground operations in favor of America’s War on Terrorism. And as Michel Chossudovsky wrote back at the time of the infamous September 11th terrorist attacks, the ISI played a key role in acting as a “go-between” between the CIA and the Islamic jihadists in Afghanistan going back to 1979. This would in large part lead to the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union. [3][4]

On the other hand, Pakistan has gained partners both in Russia and in China. There was a vital 1100km gas pipeline project between Lahore and Karachi in which the goods would be provided from Russia. And in November of 2014, Russia and Pakistan signed a defense cooperation pact followed by a military-technical cooperation agreement all of which would serve toward “Strengthening of mutual trust and international security, counter-terrorist and arms control activities.” [5][6][7]

And then there was China’s “One Belt One Road” initiative, which would ultimately help undermine dependence on the Strait of Malacca and building a conduit between China and West Asia and the Middle East. [8]

These alliances have been tightening under the new leader Khan. On the same night Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized the Ukraine intervention, Khan had been meeting with him to discuss a wide variety of subjects including economic and energy cooperation. He did not announce a formal disapproval of the intervention in Ukraine then, nor did he do it when he returned home. [9][10]

Did Khan then cross the rubicon and slot himself in the bad books of Washington? Maybe it’s a coincidence, but in the lead-up to the National Assembly vote of no confidence, Prime Minister Khan cited the following quote of U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Donald Lu as evidence the U.S. was behind this move:

“If Prime Minister Imran Khan remained in office, then Pakistan will be isolated from the United States and we will take the issue head on; but if the vote of no-confidence succeeds, all will be forgiven.” [11]

Was this yet another plot of regime change by the United States? And how would the people coming out in unprecedented number in support of their removed Prime Minister prevail in his return to power? We will examine these questions on this edition of the Global Research News Hour.

In Part One of our series, we will talk to Professor Junaid Ahmad, who has a background in Pakistan about the details of the coup, the reasons for Khan to go, and the resulting push back from the people of Pakistan. And in our second half hour, we present a repeat broadcast from October of 2012 of an interview with Professor Michel Chossudovsky, founder/director of the Centre for Research on Globalization. His talk mostly deals with Afghanistan and 9/11, although he touches also on Pakistan’s then pivotal role in the military-intelligent quagmire surrounding the whole affair.

Junaid S. Ahmad teaches Religion, Law, and Politics and is the Director of the Center for the Study of Islam and Decoloniality. He is a regular contributor to Global Research.

Michel Chossudovsky is the author of thirteen books including The Globalization of War: America’s Long War Against Humanity (2015), and the international best America’s “War on Terrorism”  Second Edition (2005). He is Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Center for Research on Globalization. 

(Global Research News Hour Episode 354)

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Notes:

  1. ‘Imran Khan’s speech in full’ (July 26, 2018), Al Jazeera;https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/7/26/imran-khans-speech-in-full
  2. No-Trust Motion: Imran Khan Becomes First Prime Minister To Be Voted Out Of Power (April 10, 2022), The Nation; https://nation.com.pk/2022/04/10/no-trust-motion-imran-khan-becomes-first-prime-minister-to-be-voted-out-of-pow/
  3. https://asiatimes.com/2021/05/pakistan-leans-towards-giving-us-military-bases/
  4. https://www.globalresearch.ca/september-11-2001-the-crimes-of-war-committed-in-the-name-of-911/5311561
  5. https://cscr.pk/explore/themes/trade-economics/pakistan-russia-china-emerging-coalition/
  6. https://www.ilaan.com/news/gas-pipelines-to-be-laid-from-lahore-to-karachi
  7. https://dsm.forecastinternational.com/wordpress/2019/05/03/russia-and-pakistan-a-new-arms-deal-on-the-horizon/
  8. https://cscr.pk/explore/themes/trade-economics/pakistan-russia-china-emerging-coalition/
  9. https://www.gulftoday.ae/news/2022/02/24/pakistan-prime-minister-imran-khan-in-russia-to-meet-putin
  10. https://www.globalresearch.ca/regime-change-islamabad/5776219
  11. https://www.globalresearch.ca/pakistan-pivot-russia-ouster-imran-khan/5777970?utm_campaign=magnet&utm_source=article_page&utm_medium=related_articles

The original source of this article is Global Research

Copyright © Michael WelchJunaid S. Ahmad, and Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 2022

West Asia’s economic savior is called ‘multipolarity’

The transition from a western economic order toward a multipolar one is ushering in unprecedented economic and security advancements for West Asia.

May 02 2022

With Russia and Iran standing guard, and China’s ambitious investments, West Asia must sever its western economic dependencies and race toward the riches of multipolarity. Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Matthew Ehret

With Russia and Iran standing guard, and China’s ambitious investments, West Asia must sever its western economic dependencies and race toward the riches of multipolarity.

A race is now underway that will determine the shape of things to come for many generations.

While it is easy to get lost in the swarm of chaotic facts, sound bites, narrative spin, and other noise, it is vital to keep sight of the larger historical forces shaping our present crisis-ridden age.

Two weeks ago, in an important exclusive interview for The Cradle, influential Russian economist Sergey Glazyev outlined the terms and operating principles quickly being brought online by the leading member states of the Greater Eurasian Partnership.

Glazyev laid out the fundamental principles upon which the new post-US dollar economic system will be based. Although some common unit will be agreed upon, it will not be based upon any particular currency as with the Bretton Woods order, but rather a market basket of local currencies tied more deeply to an array of real commodities such as gold and other precious metals, grain, hydrocarbons, sugar, etc.

Real science, not casino-economics

The difference between this system and the now defunct Anglo-American economic structures is that Glazyev’s conception is based on real, tangible, measurable processes defining economic value among participants of the multipolar alliance.

This new paradigm of value stands in stark contrast to the post-1971 floating exchange rate system of rampant speculation and hyperbolically increasing rates of unpayable debts supporting decades of western economic malpractice.

Whereas one system justifies the increase of monetary flows within its system by speculative casino-logic devoid of any measurable improvement in the productive powers of labor, the opposing Eurasian system as described by Glazyev is very different. This multipolar system justifies economic growth, investment, and profit by activities that are tied to improving the conditions of life of people through practices tied to agro-industrial and scientific progress.

For those willing to do their research, they will take note that this is ironically how the west behaved when it was still growing industrially during the 19th century and first half of the 20th century. Sadly, two generations of a post-industrial consumer society logic have destroyed that earlier heritage.

Glazyev is not just any theoretician. He is the Russian minister in charge of Integration and Macroeconomics of the Eurasia Economic Union (EEU) and a leading strategist behind the Eurasian Economic Union-China commission for a new financial architecture. As such, his words are not merely academic, but an active force of grand strategy which keeps even monetarist ideologues at the Russian Central Bank up at night.

In all of his recent interviews and writings, Glazyev has also made it clear that the principles of this new system are already operational in the form of China’s unique approach to finance and international relations, recently describing China in the following terms:

“The entire banking system in China is state-owned, it operates as a single development institution, directing cash flows to expand output and develop new technologies. In the United States, the money supply is used to finance the budget deficit and is reallocated to financial bubbles. As a result, the efficiency of the US financial and economic system is 20 percent-there only one in five dollars reaches the real sector, and in China almost 90 percent (that is, almost all the yuan created by the Central Bank of the PRC) feed the contours of expanding production and ensure ultra-high economic growth.”

Across South and Central Asia, the Sino-Russian alliance has been transformative with Moscow providing strategic military and intelligence assistance to prevent western-directed regime change over the past seven years, as we have seen in the case of Syria since 2015, Turkey in 2016, and most recently Kazakhstan in 2022.

However, Russia lacks the economic freedom to carry out construction of mega-projects due to the continuing (for now) IMF hold on its economy — this is where China comes in. Beijing has been able to use its vast state banking apparatus to provide long term investments for the reconstruction of all nations abused by globalization for generations.

‘Tunxi’ to transform western Asia

While China’s flagship Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has been evolving at a fast pace since it was first unveiled in 2013, nowhere does it offer more hope than in the regions of West and Southwest Asia which have suffered under Anglo-American manipulation for generations and whose people are hungry for economic advancement.

With the April 1, 2022 comprehensive Tunxi Agreement signed by the foreign ministers of Russia, Pakistan, China, Afghanistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, the Southwest and Central Asian BRI projects took on new energy.

Among the many initiatives in the Tunxi’s goal of integrating Afghanistan into the BRI while also amplifying BRI influence in surrounding regions, we see a high priority on energy projects, transport/connectivity, integration, agriculture, telecommunications and integration with surrounding nations. Among its 72 points, the agreement states:

“China supports the extension of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the China-Central Asia-West Asia Economic Corridor to Afghanistan, and is ready to promote synergy between the Belt and Road Initiative and the development strategies of Afghanistan, and support the smooth operation of the China-Afghanistan freight train services, to help Afghanistan better integrate into the regional economic integration process.”

Leading projects will include the Khaf-Herat railway which will be completed and extended to central Asian countries via the Mazar-e-Sharif rail line and also the Chabahar Port in Iran.

Iran’s Deputy Transport Minister Abbas Khatibi pointed out that this project will soon link to China and other regional nations saying, “In addition to connect Iran’s rail network to Europe, the new Khaf-Herat railroad will link the country’s southern ports to Central Asian countries, the Caucasus, Iraq and even China.”

Increased interconnectivity

On February 23, 2022, The Silk Road Briefing stated:

“There is much to be done to attain Iran-Afghanistan-China rail connectivity. The planned route east would exit Afghanistan on the border with Tajikistan, then continue east to Kyrgyzstan before entering China through valleys of the Tian Shan mountain range that divide the two countries. A likely terminus would be Kashgar, with existing spurs heading north to Urumqi and connecting to China’s high-speed national rail network and through West to Kazakhstan. There are as yet unrealised plans to create a southern rail connection from Kashgar through to Pakistan.”

According to the Tunxi agreement, Turkmenistan also vowed to contributed to the “development of the transport, transit and communication system of Afghanistan, the intensification of the transit of cargo and passenger flows, by maintaining the operation of the railways along the route Atamyrat-Imamnazar-Akina-Andkhoy, which is designed to connect the countries of the region with further access to the railway network of China.”

Also important is the 6540 km Pakistan-Iran-Turkey freight line now being re-opened after 10 years of disarray. This strategic line which can easily intersect with CPEC and rail networks in China cuts travel down from 21 days at sea to only 10 days. Plans to add a new parallel passenger line to the freight service are also underway.

Commenting on the significance of this project, Pakistan’s Railway minister Azam Khan Swati said, “The start of the container train from Pakistan to Iran and Turkey was a long-standing dream of the countries of the region which has come true again.”

Following the Economic Cooperation Organization meeting in November 2021, projects to connect the Persian Gulf (at the Port of Bandar Abbas in Iran) with the Black Sea via rail were advanced by representatives of Iran, Azerbaijan and Georgia.

This development is part of the broader International North South Transportation Corridor (INSTC) which has become increasingly synergistic with the East-West BRI in recent years and which offers multiple points of intersection with both Russia, Ukraine and Europe. If a wider conflict is to be avoided among Russia and its European neighbors, win-win projects of economic cooperation embodied by this project are essential.

A high priority in the Tunxi agreement was placed on energy projects which Afghanistan desperately needs. Among the many coal, natural gas and other projects showcased, much effort was made to emphasize their complementarity with the CASA-1000 project launched in 2016. This $1.2 billion energy mega project involves creating a vast system of transmission lines stretching from the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

Another high priority project featured in Tunxi is the 1814 km Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) Natural Gas Pipeline whose construction began in 2018 which will be an important force for residential and industrial development of all four nations.

How ‘new’ will the international order be?

While the Russia-China alliance is robust, other nations among the 148 which have so far signed cooperation agreements with the BRI are on shakier ground. It is in these weaker zones that efforts are being made to loosen the fabric of the Eurasian alliance through any and all possible means.

Such has been the fate of Pakistan which saw an alleged US State Department-directed overthrow of Prime Minister Imran Khan on 10 April. This has cast doubt over the new government’s level of commitment to the CPEC and BRI projects as outlined in Tunxi and other locations as well as broader pro-Eurasian security agreements advanced through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in recent years. At least for the time being, the new Pakistani government of Shehbaz Sharif has vowed to maintain CPEC as a top national priority.

Whatever the outcome of the unfolding conflict in Ukraine, military saber-rattling by the US in Asia-Pacific, or broader efforts to destabilize the allies of Russia, Iran and China (RIC), the fact is that the current order as we know it is in terminal decline, while a new economic system will arise one way or another.

The question isn’t “will it collapse?” but “will the new system be based on the principles advocated by Sergey Glazyev?” If not, will it be premised on the model of a new Roman Empire managing a divided, impoverished, and warring world under the influence of a sociopathic supranational hegemon?

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

Algeria: Dotting the I’s in France’s colonial history

April 22 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

By Karim Sharara 

France’s colonial history is a barbaric one that extends from the 16th century until the liberation of Algeria in 1962. Millions of people have died, countries have had their wealth plundered, and France still refuses to recognize its dark past.

France’s 132 years of colonial presence in Algeria resulted in the deaths of millions of people and the plundering of the country’s riches

It wasn’t completely unlike Macron to deny that Algeria was ever a nation. It was surprising to hear such a statement uttered against a sovereign country in what is supposed to be a post-imperialist world order (evidently not so), but to say outright that a country that France had occupied for over a century and whose culture it helped destroy was truly flabbergasting.

You can take the colonial out of the colony but not colonialism out of the colonial, the mentality indeed persists.

It seems somewhat perplexing that France, whose Zemmours, Le Pens, and Macrons are all radically attempting to preserve what they consider to be essential to French identity by coercing Muslims into conforming, are also denying the identity of the very country they occupied, whose riches they stole, whose people they killed and posed next to their decapitated heads neatly arranged on spears, and whose culture and identity they transformed by force and coercion.

How did France’s colonial history begin and unfold, and what led it to its 100+ year occupation of Algeria?

France’s colonial empire

France’s earliest trials at colonialism happened during the 16th and 17th centuries and were part of the ongoing competition that was taking place at the time between European powers (France, Britain, the Netherlands, Spain, and Portugal), the main goal of all of whom was to find new routes to the East Indies in an effort to secure these routes for themselves in an attempt to monopolize the spice trade.

France first began its incursions into North America with the establishment of small colonies. The presence of French missionaries, coupled with colonization efforts, further exacerbated matters as they upset the sociological makeup by drawing Native American men into Christianity with promises of land, and then telling them they must cultivate crops, which to their societies was women’s work. These “redefinitions of manhood prompted many women to resist Christianity” and generated conflict within their communities.[1]

The Caribbean was also a region where competing European powers constantly clashed with one another. By 1697, France had colonized portions of North America stretching to the Caribbean and snatched Hispaniola (modern-day Haiti) from Spain in that same year. Most of the island’s indigenous population had died during Spain’s incursion for gold. France turned their colonies into plantations for sugar, coffee, and spice, and used slave labor on the islands, to such an extent that by the late 18th century, slaves outnumbered European colonists by 8 to 1, thus greatly transforming the demographic makeup of the region.

Amid the struggle for global empire-building between France and Britain, the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763) took place between the two powers and their allies in Europe. The war resulted in a decisive win for Britain and a loss for France and Spain, and the 1763 Treaty of Paris saw a number of land exchanges in order to appease Britain. France ceded all of Canada in order to retain the islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe and their valuable sources of sugar and remained somewhat inactive until after the French Revolution of 1789 and the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte who returned to the task of empire-building.

France’s imperial incursions into West Asia and North Africa date back in large part to the year 1798, as Napoleon was rising in power and conquered Egypt, and then continued on when the French Empire later colonized Algeria in 1830.

After his successes in Italy, which culminated in the Treaty of Campo Formio, Napoleon turned his attention to the British Empire, France’s perennial enemy, and tried to see whether a landing on the British isles was possible; after two months of planning, he found that it was not, as the British Navy was far superior to the French. However, one thing Napoleon could do to harm the British would be to threaten their trade with India.

Napoleon’s fascination with Egypt

Another end goal envisioned by Napoleon would follow the occupation of Egypt, whereupon he would send a force to the Kingdom of Mysore in South India in order to reinforce them, as they were also enemy of the British and were fighting against their presence in India[2].  

For Napoleon, this mission also held a personal dimension, as the 29-year-old general (in 1798) had been a longtime fan of the Orient, and he always referenced Alexander the Great and Egypt in his writings and conversations. “Thus, the idea of reconquering Egypt as a new Alexander proposed itself to him, allied with the additional benefit of acquiring a new Islamic colony at England’s expense.[3]

Although Napoleon’s ships were being pursued by the British Royal Navy, he successfully evaded them, managed to land on Egypt’s shores, and defeated the Mamluk army in the Battle of the Pyramids. However, Napoleon’s armies suffered a resounding defeat at the hands of the British Navy only days later, which resulted in the decimation of Napoleon’s ships, left him stranded in Egypt, and ended his dreams of conquering West Asia. After a three-year campaign and a series of defeats, Napoleon went back to France and launched his coup d’état, leaving him in power[4].

Algeria’s story begins

France’s aspirations of colonization in the MENA region would be left unachieved until after Napoleon’s fall, and during the reign of Charles X. Although Algeria had stood by France during its difficult times, when it was shunned by all of Europe in the 1790s, Algeria had lent it money and allowed it to receive supplies from its ports. Both countries’ relations were somewhat constrained during France’s three-year invasion of Egypt, as the Ottoman Sultan requested that Algeria declare war on Egypt, which it did, but relations returned to normal as soon as the invasion was over.

Despite Algeria’s good relations with France, Napoleon had (prior to his fall) been looking for a reason to invade it because of its strategic position, the superiority of France’s fleet, and his want of a colony on the Mediterranean to strengthen France’s position. He threatened Algeria repeatedly over the years on a number of different occasions, but the plans to invade it never materialized, as he was busy with campaigns in Europe. Nevertheless, some of his commanders did go to Algeria in the early 1800s to scout it and assess how best to capture it.

The main reason behind France’s invasion of Algeria is that France did not wish to repay its debts to the Algerian Dey and Algeria’s Jewish merchants (who had come to the Dey complaining that France is refusing payment). The debt had been accumulated by France during its invasion of Egypt in 1798. France only used an incident that took place between the Algerian ruler and France’s consul (who was implicated in the affair and had received payment from the merchants in exchange for helping secure a portion of their debt, none of which found its way back to the Algerian treasury), in order to launch the war against the country and occupy it in 1830, during the reign of Charles X[5]. The incident in question came to be known as the Fly Whisk incident.

The merchants had promised France’s Foreign Minister and its consul in Algeria a portion of the funds if they managed to secure payment of France’s debts to them, which in fact happened. However, the merchants were also indebted to the Algerian state, but by the time they were paid, France paid them directly, and not through the Algerian treasury. Moreover, one of the merchants had secured French citizenship, and another Italian citizenship, and so the Algerian state was unable to pursue them for payment. 

France’s consul, as French newspapers revealed at the time, was paid two million Francs by the merchants in return. When Algerian authorities caught wind of the news, they knew the consul, who is thought to have made up the incident, was in on it, and was refusing to cooperate with Algeria in order to avoid France having to repay its debt[6].

The occupation

During the course of Algeria’s 132-year struggle for independence, nearly 5 million people were killed, and hundreds of thousands were injured. It took France nearly 70 years to gain control of Algeria after it first occupied it on July 5th, 1830, and Algeria only gained its independence after fighting a fierce war in which nearly 1.5 million Algerians lost their lives.

As far as the looting of Algeria went, France made sure to profit off the land as best it could. Even though the Treaty of Surrender signed between Algeria’s last Dey, Hussein Dey, and France included a condition that Islamic endowments not be violated, France realized that these endowments may become a source of income and confiscated them and looted them in 1843.

France’s colonial administration went a step further in 1871, enacting the Indigenous People Law, which helped them plunder Algeria’s resources by granting European settlers ownership of the lands, while Algerians working them only received 20% of the production. The Algerians could also only travel after seeking permission from colonial authorities and had their movements restricted.

Another law issued by colonial authorities was the Cremieux Decree in 1870, which turned Muslim Arabs and Berbers effectively second-class citizens, while Algeria’s Jewish population was granted French citizenship.

In terms of precious metals, more than 110 tons of Algeria’s gold and silver were stolen by the French, which are estimated today to be worth over $180 billion in today’s money.

France only recognized Algeria’s war of independence as an actual war in 1999. Today’s France, however, is still dragging its legs in recognizing Algeria’s right to reparation. In 1961, before gaining their independence, Algerians took to the streets of Paris to protest a curfew imposed on them, but a French crackdown turned the protest into a massacre, with more than 200 people being killed and scores of bodies being dumped in the Seine River.

Today, France continues to treat its Muslim population as second-class citizens who must conform, by force, to a very restricted idea of French identity. Instead of accommodating them, France is trying its best to exclude its citizens, just as it tried to force Algerians to conform to its own norms. The reasoning before was that of the White Man’s Burden, backwardness, cultural inferiority, or any number of excuses. Today, these excuses have all been repackaged under a nifty new branding called French identity.

Sources:

  • [1] Benjamin, Thomas, and Macmillan Reference USA Staff. “Encyclopedia of Western colonialism since 1450.” (2007).
  • [2] Amini, Iradj, “Napoleon and Persia”, Iran, vol. 37 (1999), British Institute of Persian Studies, p. 109-110.
  • [3] Said, Edward. “Orientalism Penguin Books.” (1978), p. 80.
  • [4] Roberts, Andrew. Napoleon: A life. Penguin, 2014, p. 188-230.
  • [5] Abu al-Qasim Sa’d Allah, Muhadarat fi Tarikh al-Jaza’ir al-Hadith (Bidayat al-Ihtilal), Al-Jaza’ir: Al Sharikah al-Wataniyyah li-n-Nashr w-at-Tawzi’, p. 13-33
  • [6] Mubarak bin Muhammad al-Mili, Tarikh al-Jaza’ir bayn al-Qadim w-al-Hadith, vol. 3, n.d, Maktabat al-Nahdah al-Jaza’iriyyah, p. 271-276.

US Bases in Region Host Undercover ‘Israeli’ Military Forces, Intelligence Agents – Report

April 13 2022

By Staff, Agencies

The Tel Aviv occupation regime has been deploying part of its military aircraft and spying equipment along with the regime’s military experts in US bases scattered in some countries in the West Asia region, a new report said.

The report, released by Iran’s Nournews website on Monday, said undercover ‘Israeli’ military personnel deployed to US bases in the region conduct their own missions independent of American forces present in those bases.

The important point about this regional presence, the report added, is the deployment of undercover military and intelligence agents of the ‘Israeli’ occupation entity in some regional countries that enjoy close relations with Iran.

Experts believe that the main goal behind the presence of the Zionist regime’s agents in some regional countries is to spy on and collect direct information related to Iran’s important bases and sensitive facilities.

Although Iranian Armed Forces are closely monitoring these provocative moves, for which the host countries are also responsible, the nature of these actions will increase tension and instability in the region and can lead to unpredictable conditions, the report said.

It added that high-resolution documented photos are available on the presence of the ‘Israeli’ regime’s aircraft and spying equipment in the US bases in some regional countries, which confirm the intelligence gathered in the field on the Zionist entity’s anti-Iran activities in the region.

According to the report, senior officials of countries where ‘Israeli’ undercover experts have been present are aware of the ‘Israeli’ military and intelligence presence in their countries but prefer to keep mum on this issue.

The scheme started when the Zionist regime was transferred from the US European Command [EUCOM] to US Central Command [CENTCOM], in order to enable the Tel Aviv regime to implement its conspiracies in the West Asia region following withdrawal of the United States.

Can Israel Exist without America: Numbers Speaks of a Changing Reality

April 6, 2022

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (L) with US President Joe Biden. (Photo: Video grab, via Wikimedia Commons)

By Ramzy Baroud

When Russian and Ukrainian delegations meeting in Turkey on March 29 reached an initial understanding regarding a list of countries that could serve as security guarantors for Kyiv should an agreement be struck, Israel appeared on the list. The other countries included the US, the UK, China, Russia, France, Turkey, Germany, Canada, Italy and Poland.

One may explain Israel’s political significance to the Russian-Ukrainian talks based on Tel Aviv’s strong ties with Kyiv, as opposed to Russia’s trust in Israel. This is insufficient to rationalize how Israel has managed to acquire relevance in an international conflict, arguably the most serious since World War II.

Immediately following the start of the war, Israeli officials began to circumnavigate the globe, shuttling between many countries that are directly or even nominally involved in the conflict. Israeli President Isaac Herzog flew to Istanbul to meet with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The outcome of this meeting could usher in “a turning point in relations between Turkey and Israel,” Erdogan said.

Though “Israel is proceeding cautiously with Turkey,” Lavan Karkov wrote in the Jerusalem Post, Herzog hopes that “his meeting with .. Erdogan is starting a positive process toward improved relations.” The ‘improved relations’ are not concerned with the fate of the Palestinians under Israeli occupation and siege, but with a gas pipeline connecting Israel’s Leviathan offshore gas field in the eastern Mediterranean, to southern Europe via Turkey.

This project will improve Israel’s geopolitical status in the Middle East and Europe. The political leverage of being a primary gas supplier to Europe would allow Israel even stronger influence over the continent and will certainly tone down any future criticism of Tel Aviv by Ankara.

That was only one of many such Israeli overtures. Tel Aviv’s diplomatic flurry included a top-level meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, and a succession of visits by top EuropeanAmericanArab and other officials to Israel.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken landed in Israel on March 26 and was expected to put some pressure on Israel to join the US-led western sanctions on Russia. Little of that has transpired. The greatest rebuke came from Under-Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland, when, on March 11, she called on Israel not to become “the last haven for dirty money that’s fueling Putin’s wars”.

For years, Israel had hoped to free itself from its disproportionate reliance on Washington. This dependency took on many forms: financial and military assistance, political backing, diplomatic cover and more. According to Chuck Freilich, writing in Newsweek, “by the end of the ten-year military-aid package .. agreed (between Washington and Tel Aviv) for 2019-28, the total figure (of US aid to Israel) will be nearly $170bn.”

Many Palestinians and others believe that, if the US ceases to support Israel, the latter would simply collapse. However, this might not be the case, at least not in theory. Writing in March 2021 in the New York Times, Max Fisher estimated that US aid to Israel in 1981 “was equivalent to almost 10 percent of Israel’s economy,” while in 2020, the nearly $4 billion of US aid was “closer to 1 percent.”

Still, this 1 percent is vital for Israel, as much of the funds are funneled to the Israeli military which, in turn, converts them to weapons that are routinely used against Palestinians and other Arab countries. Israeli military technology of today is far more developed than it was 40 years ago. Figures by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) place Israel as the world’s eighth-largest military exporter between 2016-2020, with an estimated export value of $8.3 billion in 2020 alone. These numbers continue to grow as Israeli military hardware is increasingly incorporated into many security apparatuses across the world, including the US, the EU and also in the Global South.

Much of this discussion is rooted in a document from 1996, entitled: “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm”. The document was authored by Richard Perle, former US Assistant Secretary of Defense, jointly with top leaders in the neoconservative movement in Washington. The target audience of that research was none other than Benjamin Netanyahu, who was then the newly-elected Israeli Prime Minister.

Aside from the document’s detailed instructions on how Israel can use some of its Arab neighbors, in addition to Turkey, to weaken and ‘roll back’ hostile governments, it also made significant references to future relations Tel Aviv should aspire to develop with Washington.

Perle urged Israel to “make a clean break from the past and establish a new vision for the U.S.-Israeli partnership based on self-reliance, maturity and mutuality – not one focused narrowly on territorial disputes.” This new, ‘self-reliant Israel’ “does not need U.S. troops in any capacity to defend it.” Ultimately, such self-reliance “will grant Israel greater freedom of action and remove a significant lever of pressure used against it in the past.”

An example is Israel’s relations with China. In 2013, Washington was outraged when Israel sold secret missile and electro-optic US technology to China. Quickly, Tel Aviv was forced to retreat. The controversy subsided when the head of defense experts at the Israeli Defense Ministry was removed. Eight years on, despite US protests and demands that Israel must not allow China to operate the Israeli Haifa port due to Washington’s security concerns, the port was officially initiated in September 2021.

Israel’s regional and international strategy seems to be advancing in multiple directions, some of them directly opposing those of Washington. Yet, thanks to continued Israeli influence in the US Congress, Washington does little to hold Israel accountable. Meanwhile, now that Israel is fully aware that the US has changed its political attitude in the Middle East and is moving in the direction of the Pacific region and Eastern Europe, Tel Aviv’s ‘clean break’ strategy is moving faster than ever before. However, this comes with risks. Though Israel is stronger now, its neighbors are also getting stronger.

Hence, it is critical that Palestinians understand that Israel’s survival is no longer linked to the US, at least not as intrinsically as in the past. Therefore, the fight against Israeli occupation and apartheid can no longer be disproportionately focused on breaking up the ‘special relationship’ that united Tel Aviv and Washington for over 50 years. Israel’s ‘independence’ from the US entails risks and opportunities that must be considered in the Palestinian struggle for freedom and justice.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is “Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out”. Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

From Korea to Libya: On the Future of Ukraine and NATO’s Neverending Wars

April 6, 2022

Ukraine needs peace and security, not perpetual war that is designed to serve the strategic interests of certain countries or military alliances.

By Ramzy BAROUD

Much has been said and written about media bias and double standards in the West’s response to the Russia-Ukraine war, when compared with other wars and military conflicts across the world, especially in the Middle East and the Global South. Less obvious is how such hypocrisy is a reflection of a much larger phenomenon which governs the West’s relationship to war and conflict zones.

Like every NATO-led war since the inception of the alliance in 1949, these wars resulted in widespread devastation and tragic death tolls.

On March 19, Iraq commemorated the 19th anniversary of the US invasion which killed, according to modest estimates, over a million Iraqis. The consequences of that war were equally devastating as it destabilized the entire Middle East region, leading to various civil and proxy wars. The Arab world is reeling under that horrific experience to this day.

Also, on March 19, the eleventh anniversary of the NATO war on Libya was commemorated and followed, five days later, by the 23rd anniversary of the NATO war on Yugoslavia. Like every NATO-led war since the inception of the alliance in 1949, these wars resulted in widespread devastation and tragic death tolls.

None of these wars, starting with the NATO intervention in the Korean Peninsula in 1950, have stabilized any of the warring regions. Iraq is still as vulnerable to terrorism and outside military interventions and, in many ways, remains an occupied country. Libya is divided among various warring camps, and a return to civil war remains a real possibility.

Yet, enthusiasm for war remains high, as if over seventy years of failed military interventions have not taught us any meaningful lessons. Daily, news headlines tell us that the US, the UK, Canada, Germany, Spain or some other western power have decided to ship a new kind of ‘lethal weapons‘ to Ukraine. Billions of dollars have already been allocated by Western countries to contribute to the war in Ukraine.

In contrast, very little has been done to offer platforms for diplomatic, non-violent solutions. A handful of countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia have offered mediation or insisted on a diplomatic solution to the war, arguing, as China’s foreign ministry reiterated on March 18, that “all sides need to jointly support Russia and Ukraine in having dialogue and negotiation that will produce results and lead to peace.”

Though the violation of the sovereignty of any country is illegal under international law, and is a stark violation of the United Nations Charter, this does not mean that the only solution to violence is counter-violence. This cannot be truer in the case of Russia and Ukraine, as a state of civil war has existed in Eastern Ukraine for eight years, harvesting thousands of lives and depriving whole communities from any sense of peace or security. NATO’s weapons cannot possibly address the root causes of this communal struggle. On the contrary, they can only fuel it further.

If more weapons were the answer, the conflict would have been resolved years ago. According to the BBC, the US has already allocated $2.7bn to Ukraine over the last eight years, long before the current war. This massive arsenal included “anti-tank and anti-armor weapons … US-made sniper (rifles), ammunition and accessories.”

The speed with which additional military aid has poured into Ukraine following the Russian military operations on February 24 is unprecedented in modern history. This raises not only political or legal questions, but moral questions as well – the eagerness to fund war and the lack of enthusiasm to help countries rebuild.

After 21 years of US war and invasion of Afghanistan, resulting in a humanitarian and refugee crisis, Kabul is now largely left on its own. Last September, the UN refugee agency warned that “a major humanitarian crisis is looming in Afghanistan”, yet nothing has been done to address this ‘looming’ crisis, which has greatly worsened since then.

The amassing of NATO weapons in Ukraine, as was the case of Libya, will likely backfire. In Libya, NATO’s weapons fueled the country’s decade long civil war.

Afghani refugees are rarely welcomed in Europe. The same is true for refugees coming from Iraq, Syria, Libya, Mali and other conflicts that directly or indirectly involved NATO. This hypocrisy is accentuated when we consider international initiatives that aim to support war refugees, or rebuild the economies of war-torn nations.

Compare the lack of enthusiasm in supporting war-torn nations with the West’s unparalleled euphoria in providing weapons to Ukraine. Sadly, it will not be long before the millions of Ukrainian refugees who have left their country in recent weeks become a burden on Europe, thus subjected to the same kind of mainstream criticism and far-right attacks.

While it is true that the West’s attitude towards Ukraine is different from its attitude towards victims of western interventions, one has to be careful before supposing that the ‘privileged’ Ukrainains will ultimately be better off than the victims of war throughout the Middle East. As the war drags on, Ukraine will continue to suffer, either the direct impact of the war or the collective trauma that will surely follow. The amassing of NATO weapons in Ukraine, as was the case of Libya, will likely backfire. In Libya, NATO’s weapons fueled the country’s decade long civil war.

Ukraine needs peace and security, not perpetual war that is designed to serve the strategic interests of certain countries or military alliances. Though military invasions must be wholly rejected, whether in Iraq or Ukraine, turning Ukraine into another convenient zone of perpetual geopolitical struggle between NATO and Russia is not the answer.

commondreams.org

The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.

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InterventionismIraqNATOUkraineWar

Yemen & Ukraine: A tale of two wars

1 April 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

Fra Hughes 

The media tries to make us believe that black is white, that the aggressors are the victims, and the oppressed are the villains.

Yemen & Ukraine: Compare and contrast a tale of two wars

Two very distinct and separate wars are concurrently happening in West Asia and Eastern Europe.

Both wars have their origins in people fighting to free themselves from a corrupt government.

The Yemini people rose in a popular revolution against a corrupt regime that acted in the interests of regional and international power blocks and not in the interests of its people.

The people of Ukraine found themselves the victim of a regime change operation in 2014 resulting in a coup that forced the democratically elected leader Viktor Fedorovych Yanukovych to flee for his life as a fascist junta was installed.

While the people of Yemen fought for independence and free sovereignty, the people of Ukraine were facing a government led by neo-Nazis, Russophobic ultra-nationalists who were determined to destroy one-third of the population who are Russian-speaking Ukrainians. The specter of the Great Patriotic war loomed over the people as echoes and ghosts from 1941 returned to haunt the people who had defeated fascism in Ukraine and liberated the country from the Nazi occupation.

So we have a tale of two wars.

When the people led the revolution of Yemen threatened the Saudi favored government, the incumbent President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi fled to Riyad and with the help of mercenaries, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, planes armed with American and British bombs directed and controlled by “Israel”i American and British military advisers, Hadi continued his war against the Yemeni people to regain power.

Yemen armed forces and the popular mobilization units of the Ansurallah resistance movement have resisted all the efforts to date by Hadi, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, America, and the West to reinstall his puppet regime.

In Ukraine, we had a popular resistance to a foreign installed coup when the people of Donbas and Crimea fought for autonomy and the universal basic human right to live free from an unelected undemocratic fascist government hell-bent on destroying their culture and ethnicity and even their very lives of those who dared to resist.

Two separate conflicts both with similar origins and one common enemy 

In Yemen, the people fought a corrupt foreign-backed government. In Ukraine, the people fought against a foreign installed government. 

America backed the unpopular and elected unopposed President of Yemen.

America also backed financed directed and controlled the coup in Ukraine.

In the geopolitical machinations of American foreign policy, they effectively created both wars;

The war on Yemen presently occurring has the backing of the Biden administration as they help reinforce the illegal inhuman siege of the country while they also arm and direct the aerial bombing campaign which destroys Yemeni lives, infrastructure, hospitals, schools, roads and bridges. They also prevent food, aid medicine and fuel from being delivered, to alleviate the worst excesses of the war which they control.

It is a proxy war on Iran led by America Saudi Arabia the EU Britain and “Israel”. Every death has been and continues to be avoidable, if only the political will existed to hold a ceasefire and end the violence.

But the alliance of the unholy does not want peace, because war sells.

It sells weapons and it sells shares.

The military-industrial complex which finances and supports the American political system is making vast profits.

Profits that help bolster election campaigns and private bank accounts.

In Ukraine, after the people of Donbas and Crimea secured their freedom, a continued low-level conflict was encouraged to keep the drums of war beating,

Kiev refused to implement the Minsk Agreements of 2014 and 2015 which recognized the Republic of Donetsk and Lugansk and was the basis of a bilateral ceasefire that was constantly broken by Ukrainian shelling along the contact line killing thousand and injuring many more over the last 8 years.

Biden was the Vice President in 2014 when the coup was installed in Kiev.

Since his return to power as President, he has supplied the Ukrainian fascist forces with modern state-of-the-art armaments and encouraged Zelensky to saber rattle for war with Russia.

Biden has used Ukraine in a proxy war with Russia.

Putin and the elected government of Russia supported by Belarus and Georgia among others of the Russian Federation sent the army into Ukraine to prevent a potential massacre of the people of Donbas and Crimea as 120,000 Ukrainian battle-ready troops prepared to invade.

We have millions of displaced Ukrainians. We have thousands dead and wounded and a prospect of a long war between a resupplied Ukrainian army in the west of Ukraine and the now liberated areas of east Ukraine under Russian protection.

In Yemen, we have hundreds of thousands dead and injured. Millions of refugees and up to 25 million people face famine, death through starvation 

It is reported a Yemeni child dies every ten minutes from this sanction-induced man-made famine.

America Britain NATO and increasingly “Israel” are involved in both conflicts.

Western imperialism and American unipolar hegemony are increasingly leading to war conflict death displacement and starvation on a global scale.

While the poorest Arab country defends its sovereignty against a coalition of some of the richest countries on the planet, Yemen with its increasingly sophisticated drone and ballistic missile capacity equips its military with the expertise to target anywhere in Saudi Arabia the Emirates and even further afield, it is only a matter of time before Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates realized that their war which has already failed, may very well lead to the destruction of the Saudi and Emirati economies.

In Ukraine, the fallout from the Russian invasion has already led to fuel price hikes in America and Europe with more economic hardships to be suffered not by the rich elite who are fueling these wars but by the people already struggling under neoliberal austerity measures so much favored by the IMF and the privatization sector in western governmental structures that reinvents itself with each new administration.

While Yemen’s lives count for nothing in West Asia and Ukrainian refugees fleeing to Russia are invisible, we witness the propaganda machine, which brooks no dissent, savagely attacks Russia as the aggressor and promotes western Ukrainians as the victims.

While Yemen is portrayed as the aggressor and Saudi Arabia as the victim much like the Palestinians are terrorists and the “Israel” is are just a peace-loving nation that desires only to live without fear.  

The media tries to make us believe that black is white, that the aggressors are the victims, and the oppressed are the villains.

These may be two conflicts but it has one origin.

American foreign policy has no regard for morality, humanity, dignity or life, it is directed by the corporate desire to control the world markets, create division and profit, in equal measure, destroy any dissent and control the sovereign resources of other nations.

They used to do it by military occupation directly as they did in Iraq, Vietnam, and Ireland but now its proxy wars using unilateral coercive measures, financial sanctions, proxy wars and regime change black operations through the CIA and NGOs.

We must all stand with Yemen, Donbas and Crimea, Palestine and Cuba, Venezuela and Iran, Lebanon and Syria, North Korea and Nicaragua, indeed everywhere that stands against imperialism and for a multipolar world.

The destruction of the global south which sees the wealth of those nations flow to the Northern hemisphere must stop.

We are living in an ever-changing world.

I pray for the death of imperialism and the triumph of socialism in a multi-polar global economy where wealth and resources are shared for the benefit of the people, for all mankind, and not the elite.

Eat the rich, end the wars, support the resistance. 

The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

Four signs that a US-Gulf ‘divorce’ is in the making

The rapid-fire ‘messages’ directed at Washington from old Persian Gulf allies are brutal, and strongly suggest that the days of US hegemony are done

March 20 2022

In all the geopolitical salvos issued left and right last week, nothing was less expected than the visit of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad to the UAE. It is a strong sign of the Persian Gulf’s dissatisfaction with its US ally.Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Abdel Bari Atwan

If any good has come out of the Ukraine war for the Arab world, it is the diminished status and influence of the US in West Asia. Washington is losing many of its traditional allies in the region, especially in the Persian Gulf, and this trend looks like it will accelerate.

Four recent developments illustrate this.

First, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s visit to the UAE on Friday. The warm welcome laid on for him by its leaders was a slap in the face of the US administration, its strongly stated objections to the visit, and its sanctions aimed at de-legitimizing the Syrian government.

Second, the growing defiance of US hegemony by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, OPEC’s two largest oil producers. Most notable was their rejection of US President Joe Biden’s pleas to increase oil production in order to push down prices and provide extra supplies to enable western sanctions of Russian oil and gas imports.

Third, the failure of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s visit – on Washington’s behalf – to Abu Dhabi and Riyadh, where he conveyed veiled threats to the two countries should they fail to toe the western line on Ukraine, join in imposing economic sanctions on Russia, or break their oil production agreements with it.

Fourth, Saudi Arabia’s invitation to China’s President Xi Jinping for an official visit and Riyadh’s openness to pricing its oil sales to Beijing in yuan. This signals that the kingdom and possibly other Gulf states may be willing to join the new global financial system Russia and China are developing as an alternative to the western one.

Of the four developments, the reception accorded to President Assad in Abu Dhabi and Dubai was the clearest sign of this Gulf rebellion against the US and its domination. The visit didn’t need to take place now; that it did shows more about the mood in the Gulf centers of power than anything else.

Moreover, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have reportedly declined to receive US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who is keen to follow up Johnson’s visit to try to succeed where he failed.

Instead, in a snub seen around the world, the UAE’s foreign minister Sheikh Ahmad Bin Zayed visited Moscow for talks with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov. The public show of bonhomie they displayed was bound to rub salt into the American wound.

The timing of Assad’s trip – on the 11th anniversary of the start of the US-led war on Syria aimed at toppling its government, and three weeks into the Russian invasion of Ukraine – and the UAE’s indifference to the angry US reaction, are further signs of the start of divorce proceedings with an abusive partner that fleeces and cheats on its allies.

Assad’s visit to the UAE provided important gains for both countries and their leaders. It broke Syria’s official isolation in the Arab world and heralded the breaking of the US embargo imposed on the country. This caps a broader process of Arab ‘normalization’ which is set to see Damascus regain its membership of the Arab League and role in collective Arab decision making, and take part in the Arab summit to be held in Algiers in November.

This bold step also benefits the UAE in many ways. It helps offset the hugely negative impact on its image that resulted from its signing of the so-called Abraham Accords and enthusiastic courtship of the Israeli enemy.

Building bridges of trust and cooperation with the Axis of Resistance via Syria, Iran’s closest ally, could also help the UAE and Saudi Arabia find ways out of their quagmire in Yemen. It may be no coincidence that Riyadh is proposing to host an all-party Yemeni dialogue and has officially invited the Houthi Ansarullah movement to take part.

In short, what we are seeing today are manifestations of a revolt against US hegemony in the Arab world by the axis of Arab ‘moderation’ led by the Egyptian-Emirati-Saudi trio. It is open for other Gulf and Arab states such as Iraq, Algeria, and Sudan to join should they wish. This new axis may take clearer shape at the Algiers summit in the fall.

The process of Arab normalization with Israel is bound to slow down. It is the most grievous error that normalizing countries – old and new – could have made, and should be halted completely. But there is optimism in this regard, as turning against the US also implies turning against Israel.

Meanwhile, Assad’s presidential plane, which over the past decade has only flown to Moscow and Tehran, looks set to do a lot more traveling in the coming weeks and months. Its next destination after Abu Dhabi could be Riyadh or Cairo, despite the best efforts of the US to bar its way.

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

‘After Syria, Ukraine is part two of World War III’: Senior Analyst

March 17, 2022

In a recent episode of his YouTube political talk program ’60 minutes’, senior Lebanese political analyst Nasser Qandil argued that ‘the Ukraine war is part two of World War III’, after ‘part one in Syria had ended in a clear victory for Russia’.

Source: Nasser Qandil (YouTube)

Description:
Date: March 7, 2022

( Please help us keep producing independent translations for you by contributing a small monthly amount here )

Transcript:

Nasser Qandil:

I wish to talk about a number of points regarding the Ukraine war, because we – as always –aim at deepening and consolidating the understanding, awareness, and perception of all those watching us, and helping them to receive the means (that raise their) awareness and not (imposing) our own outcome, meaning they can use the tools, premises, and introductions (we present) to reach different conclusions – and this is an achievement that’s way more important than (merely) dictating to them the outcome (of analyses) and saying (that’s the whole thing) and ‘full stop’ (i.e. you don’t need to think any further). Therefore, our mission in this program is to increase the knowledge (of viewers), and not only to use (the knowledge) we have or that which people have (in our discussions).

The first conclusion I wish to consolidate with you, my dear viewers, is that this war is the largest war after World War II. I personally tried to check through history before adopting this conclusion, (looking into) the Korean war, the Vietnam war, the Invasion of Iraq, the Invasion of Afghanistan, the wars of Israel in our region (the Middle East) since 1967 including the October War we fought (against Israel) as Arabs, and the Israeli invasion of Lebanon; this whole outcome makes me confidently say, bearing responsibility for my words, that this is the world’s largest war after World War II, and I’ll explain why.

The first point is that the initiator of this war is Russia, while all the other wars had (another) common (factor). We haven’t witnessed a war – except for a limited number like the October War for example, like initiatives (by forces) opposing the American (hegemony) project and its extensions and alliances, the majority – 99% of the wars witnessed after World War II were wars of domination and control carried out by the US. Therefore, we are before a war, the first characteristic of which is the transfer of the military initiative in decision-making. This shift moved from a side that was the only one taking the initiative, and which has, for seventy years, taken the lead at the global level, which is the US, (that recently) withdrew from Afghanistan and (began) avoiding to take part in wars and (began) gathering its shreds and shrapnel from places it got involved in with the aim of incurring the least amount of (further) losses, and in an attempt to strike settlement (agreements), (while) on the other hand we have the rise of a side that has started – since more than 10 years within a limited (pace) – speaking about the South Ossetian war in 2008, the Crimean Peninsula war in 2014, the huge position (Russia took) in Syria in 2015, and (the part it took) in Kazakhstan in 2021. However, now (this war) is President Putin’s largest war – Russia’s largest war after this calm ascent (of Russia), and the parallel decline of American power.

Here, we can’t look at the war from the (aspect of) geography alone. Before going into the geographical (aspect), it’s a fundamental and essential issue yes. But (first) we’re talking about a descending arc of a state, which is the US arc (of power), and an ascending Russian arc – an arc that represents this rise of Asia as a whole, and can be seen in Eastern countries in different manifestations, even if there weren’t a precise and accurate coordination and approach between Russia, Iran, and China – because there are many who would try to dig up some cracks and holes within this presentation; we are not talking about congruence of approaches. Even in the Syrian war, China didn’t take the position that Iran took; Russia took time until it took (its) position (to support Syria,) but it eventually did and paid the price for it and reaped its fruits. Consequently, it’s not necessary to speak about congruence, yet there’s an Asian rise (of power) that no one can argue about, a rise that shakes American hegemony. No one can say that the rise of Iran is not evident, and that this rise (of power) didn’t lead to the erosion of America’s position and grip on the heart of Asia and especially in our region (the Middle East). (In addition,) China’s rise worries America and the entire West, and Russia’s rise is now evident in the military sphere and through this huge, massive qualitative step, which (helped) form this ascending Russian arc that expresses this rise of Asia, (a Russian arc) that is sometimes ahead of the (Asian arc) such that it enjoys a higher degree of courage in its decision-making, (all of this) while the descending American arc (lies on the other side)…here we talk about the second characteristic of this war, which makes it one of the world’s most important wars after World War II, which is that it’s taking place in Europe.

All other wars – in the view of the West that led the world, (the West being) the US and Europe – were on the peripheries and in third world countries. I mean, check (the history) of all the (previous) wars – it (will help) explain to us why this revival of racist thought is being seen in (the attitudes) of journalists and analysts through unintended slips of tongue sometimes, (because) maybe if they thought a little about it they’d be ashamed (of what they were saying). However, this war is actually in Europe, and not in a third world country.

Therefore, for the first time since World War II – although the Yugoslavian war was in Europe, it was a war carried out by the US and western Europe to destroy what’s left of the Soviet legacy, to pave the way for a tight grip on the entire geography, economy, and politics of Europe. Now, this is the first war to knock Europe’s door, meaning that Russia is fighting a war and it’s on the European door. This is the second factor.

The third factor – I want to draw attention to the necessity of investigation, to reread information about Ukraine. Here, I’ll provide the main points to help (the viewer) get (the idea of) what we’re talking about. There’s a chain called ‘The European Bridge’ of five major European states, historically speaking: Spain, France, Germany, Poland, and Ukraine. Ukraine, in terms of (geographical) area equals (the area of) France plus a bit, (and it equals) Germany + Holland + Belgium + Switzerland (all together) in (its geographical) area. Ukraine’s population equals the population of France and equals the population of both Poland and Romania added together. The rest of the Eastern European countries became fragments – after the dissolution of Czechoslovakia – the rest, such as Lithuania, Estonia and Hungary are actually micro-states compared to the size of Ukraine. We’re speaking about 45 million people, meaning twice the number of Iraq’s (population) back when the war started (there). We’re speaking about an area of (about) 600,000 km², which is Syria’s size multiplied by three times and a half, and Lebanon’s size multiplied by 60. We are speaking about the second (most important) state in the Soviet Union after Russia, in terms of size, population, army, technical qualifications of its (various) generations, its colleges, participation in food and technical production, its position in terms of nuclear weapons.

So, we’re not speaking about Iraq, the besieged, disintegrated, weak Iraq that suffers from internal crises, that is not supported by any (external) side, and which is this far (from Europe) – if (in) Iraq, the US army’s entrance to the capital, Baghdad, took 20 days while they were at their peak of advancement, and so even if it takes the Russian army 200 days to enter Kyiv, they will still be considered as making (good) progress – (this approach) allows us to read the situation correctly. Ukraine – this is Ukraine, of course in Ukrainian history there’s a connection between it and Russia; Ukraine is to a large extent (considered as a) mini-Russia. Originally, Russia initiated from Kyiv, the Russian Empire was founded in Kyiv and then moved to Moscow. Therefore, there are efforts for reaching parity, or emulation and competition (between them). Ukraine believes – those who know the traditional Soviet environment (can relate), when we used to visit the Soviet Union, none would introduce themselves by their original nationality and point out that they’re not Russian, except for the Ukrainians; they use to say ‘I’m not Russian’. And I’m speaking about communists, he’d be an official whose mission is to negotiate with us and talk about issues. So, (we can notice that) Ukraine has a sense of competition, with the European background, and a dimension that is related to the way Ukraine was formed – which is a group of (mixed) ethnicities, and if you look at its geography you can notice that parts of it didn’t belong to Ukraine and Stalin later joined many of them to Ukraine: a part of Moldova, a part of Poland, in addition to the Crimean Peninsula that was originally Russian.

Anyway, Lenin and Stalin had a bias for Ukraine and a special interest in satisfying this Ukrainian pride and reassuring them that (Ukraine) is of an important and special status. Therefore, it has always been – I use a metaphor sometimes, I’d say that Ukraine’s (relation) with Russia is like Queen Elizabeth and Lady Diana, in which Queen Elizabeth represents the throne, history (of England), etc., and Lady Diana is the sweet, lovely, popular, (lady) that (represents) elegance, youth, and beauty etc. Therefore, Ukraine, in the eyes of the Soviet Union and the West – Brzezinski said in the 80s or 1978 that ‘Russia without Ukraine is a great state, and a very great one, yet without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be an Empire’.

So, we must know what we are speaking about, and why am I saying these words. It is to say that the conclusion is that Putin – this is his war, (the war) that he had been preparing for since at least 2014, because the 2014 war when he annexed the Crimean Peninsula and joined it to Russia, it was the first Ukrainian war for President Putin. (Furthermore,) since 2008, when he entered South Ossetia, he wasn’t aiming at Georgia; look at the (world) map, you’ll see Georgia’s size compared to Ukraine, it can’t even be compared to it! The fight is over Ukraine, the same way Syria was (of great importance) in the Middle East; the one who controls Syria will have control over the (whole Middle East) region and the world through it, (now,) the one who controls Ukraine will have control over Europe and the world through it.

Therefore, the first point we must break free from in our thinking and debate, is talking about the duration of the war; who said Putin wishes to end it in a short period of time? Why put a formula that says that one of the signs of success is the speed in which the achievement is done? It’s not a rule at all! This war might be (intentionally) designed to be a long one, so that a new world system could be built upon its ramifications, developments, and (resulting) frameworks.

It’s a war that cannot end without (reaching) a Russian-American-European settlement. Who’s Zelenskyy? What (kind of) position and power does he have (compared to Russia’s power)? What can he offer in any kind of negotiations? And what kind of decision does he get to make in negotiations? Therefore, it’s a Russian-American war. Europe became part of it. And if Europe had made the decision of not being a part of it, the whole thing would’ve ended through a Russian-European settlement. Therefore, the US used all its capabilities to make Europe a part of it, but that’s not a permanent condition. Today the fight is over Europe; to what extent can Europe remain part of this war?

Therefore, we are before part two of World War III. If Syria was the first episode, then Ukraine is the second episode. The first episode ended – if we are speaking internationally – it ended with a clear victory for Russia. Now we are before the second episode.

Say hello to Russian gold and Chinese petroyuan

The Russia-led Eurasia Economic Union and China just agreed to design the mechanism for an independent financial and monetary system that would bypass dollar transactions.

March 15 2022

By Pepe Escobar

Russia says half its gold assets were frozen – is this for real or a slick play by Moscow?

Photo Credit: The Cradle

It was a long time coming, but finally some key lineaments of the multipolar world’s new foundations are being revealed.

On Friday, after a videoconference meeting, the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and China agreed to design the mechanism for an independent international monetary and financial system. The EAEU consists of Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus and Armenia, is establishing free trade deals with other Eurasian nations, and is progressively interconnecting with the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

For all practical purposes, the idea comes from Sergei Glazyev, Russia’s foremost independent economist, a former adviser to President Vladimir Putin and the Minister for Integration and Macroeconomics of the Eurasia Economic Commission, the regulatory body of the EAEU.

Glazyev’s central role in devising the new Russian and Eurasian economic/financial strategy has been examined here. He saw the western financial squeeze on Moscow coming light-years before others.

Quite diplomatically, Glazyev attributed the fruition of the idea to “the common challenges and risks associated with the global economic slowdown and restrictive measures against the EAEU states and China.”

Translation: as China is as much a Eurasian power as Russia, and they need to coordinate their strategies to bypass the US unipolar system.

The Eurasian system will be based on “a new international currency,” most probably with the yuan as reference, calculated as an index of the national currencies of the participating countries, as well as commodity prices. The first draft will be already discussed by the end of the month.

The Eurasian system is bound to become a serious alternative to the US dollar, as the EAEU may attract not only nations that have joined BRI (Kazakhstan, for instance, is a member of both) but also the leading players in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as well as ASEAN. West Asian actors – Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon – will be inevitably interested.

In the medium to long term, the spread of the new system will translate into the weakening of the Bretton Woods system, which even serious US market players/strategists admit is rotten from the inside. The US dollar and imperial hegemony are facing stormy seas.

Show me that frozen gold

Meanwhile, Russia has a serious problem to tackle. This past weekend, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov confirmed that half of Russia’s gold and foreign reserves have been frozen by unilateral sanctions. It boggles the mind that Russian financial experts have placed a great deal of the nation’s wealth where it can be easily accessed – and even confiscated – by the ‘Empire of Lies’ (copyright Putin).

At first, it was not exactly clear what Siluanov had meant. How could the Central Bank’s Elvira Nabiulina and her team let half of foreign reserves and even gold be stored in Western banks and/or vaults? Or is this some sneaky diversionist tactic by Siluanov?

No one is better equipped to answer these questions than the inestimable Michael Hudson, author of the recent revised edition of Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of the American Empire.

Hudson was quite frank: “When I first heard the word ‘frozen,’ I thought that this meant that Russia was not going to expend its precious gold reserves on supporting the ruble, trying to fight against a Soros-style raid from the west. But now the word ‘frozen’ seems to have meant that Russia had sent it abroad, outside of its control.”

“It looks like at least as of last June, all Russian gold was kept in Russia itself. At the same time, it would have been natural to have kept securities and bank deposits in the United States and Britain, because that is where most intervention in world foreign exchange markets occurs,” Hudson added.

Essentially, it’s all still up in the air: “My first reading assumed that Russia must be doing something smart. If it was smart to move gold abroad, perhaps it was doing what other central banks do: ‘lend” it to speculators, for an interest payment or fee. Until Russia tells the world where its gold was put, and why, we can’t fathom it. Was it in the Bank of England – even after England confiscated Venezuela’s gold? Was it in the New York Fed – even after the Fed confiscated Afghanistan’s reserves?”

So far, there has been no extra clarification either from Siluanov or Nabiulina. Scenarios swirl about a string of deportations to northern  Siberia for national treason. Hudson adds important elements to the puzzle:

“If [the reserves] are frozen, why is Russia paying interest on its foreign debt falling due? It can direct the “freezer’ to pay, to shift the blame for default. It can talk about Chase Manhattan’s freezing of Iran’s bank account from which Iran sought to pay interest on its dollar-denominated debt. It can insist that any payments by NATO countries be settled in advance by physical gold. Or it can land paratroopers on the Bank of England, and recover gold – sort of like Goldfinger at Fort Knox. What is important is for Russia to explain what happened and how it was attacked, as a warning to other countries.”

As a clincher, Hudson could not but wink at Glazyev: “Maybe Russia should appoint a non-pro-westerner at the Central Bank.”

The petrodollar game-changer

It’s tempting to read into Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s words at the diplomatic summit in Antalya last Thursday as a veiled admission that Moscow may not have been totally prepared for the heavy financial artillery deployed by the Americans:

“We will solve the problem – and the solution will be to no longer depend on our western partners, be it governments or companies that are acting as tools of western political aggression against Russia instead of pursuing the interests of their businesses. We will make sure that we never again find ourselves in a similar situation and that neither some Uncle Sam nor anybody else can make decisions aimed at destroying our economy. We will find a way to eliminate this dependence. We should have done it long ago.”

So, ‘long ago’ starts now. And one of its planks will be the Eurasian financial system. Meanwhile, ‘the market’ (as in, the American speculative casino) has ‘judged’ (according to its self-made oracles) that Russian gold reserves – the ones that stayed in Russia – cannot support the ruble.

That’s not the issue – on several levels. The self-made oracles, brainwashed for decades, believe that the Hegemon dictates what ‘the market’ does. That’s mere propaganda. The crucial fact is that in the new, emerging paradigm, NATO nations amount to at best 15 percent of the world’s population. Russia won’t be forced to practice autarky because it does not need to: most of the world – as we’ve seen represented in the hefty non-sanctioning nation list – is ready to do business with Moscow.

Iran has shown how to do it. Persian Gulf traders confirmed to The Cradle that Iran is selling no less than 3 million barrels of oil a day even now, with no signed JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreement, currently under negotiation in Vienna). Oil is re-labeled, smuggled, and transferred from tankers in the dead of night.

Another example: the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), a huge refiner, just bought 3 million barrels of Russian Urals from trader Vitol for delivery in May. There are no sanctions on Russian oil – at least not yet.

Washington’s reductionist, Mackinderesque plan is to manipulate Ukraine as a disposable pawn to go scorched-earth on Russia, and then hit China. Essentially, divide-and-rule to smash not only one but two peer competitors in Eurasia who are advancing in lockstep as comprehensive strategic partners.

As Hudson sees it: “China is in the cross-hairs, and what happened to Russia is a dress rehearsal for what can happen to China. Best to break sooner than later under these conditions. Because the leverage is highest now.”

All the blather about “crashing Russian markets,” ending foreign investment, destroying the ruble, a “full trade embargo,” expelling Russia from “the community of nations,” and so forth – that’s for the zombified galleries. Iran has been dealing with the same thing for four decades, and survived.

Historical poetic justice, as Lavrov intimated, now happens to rule that Russia and Iran are about to sign a very important agreement, which may likely be an equivalent of the Iran-China strategic partnership. The three main nodes of Eurasia integration are perfecting their interaction on the go, and sooner rather than later, may be utilizing a new, independent monetary and financial system.

But there’s more poetic justice on the way, revolving around the ultimate game-changer. And it came much sooner than we all thought.

Saudi Arabia is considering accepting Chinese yuan – and not US dollars – for selling oil to China. Translation: Beijing told Riyadh this is the new groove. The end of the petrodollar is at hand – and that is the certified nail in the coffin of the indispensable Hegemon.

Meanwhile, there’s a mystery to be solved: where is that frozen Russian gold?

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

The Last American War … will be in Europe

Two weeks into the Ukraine conflict, the Atlantic alliance is already fraying. Europe, which helped destroy much of West Asia, is now the battlefield for the Last American War.

March 09 2022

By Abdel Bari Atwan

During the second US-led war on Iraq in 2003 and its resulting invasion and occupation, I wrote an article in the British daily, The Observer, commissioned by its editor-in-chief, entitled ‘America is an expert in destruction not construction.’ That title proved to be dismally accurate as US warplanes bombed all Iraqi infrastructure facilities from water and electricity stations to bridges, and killed more than a million Iraqis, according to the international medical journal Lancet.

Joe Biden said he would target Russia when he became US president. But, his war with Russia will have mainly European casualties.Photo Credit: The Cradle

Nearly 20 years later, the article springs to mind again as I follow the developments of the Ukrainian war, the associated military and diplomatic posturing of global stakeholders, and the potential ignition of a nuclear war that could lead to catastrophic consequences for the world – starting with Europe.

Battlefield: Europe

It is Europe, after all, which will be the main theater of a nuclear clash unless current mediation efforts bear fruit. And any ‘political solution’ of the conflict spells victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his country, as Moscow will not accept anything short of a complete purging of NATO’s strategic depth in Ukraine.

It was the United States that instigated and ignited this war, and Ukraine and its good people were merely victims of US President Joe Biden’s declaration upon entering the White House that Russia is the number one enemy of the United States, followed by China. He simply made Ukraine the “poisoned bait” to draw the Russians into a long war of attrition that could sap their economy and cause sedition from within.

The US-European threat of “sanctions from hell” was a double plan: these would either deter Putin from invading Ukraine, or provoke him into doing exactly that. The former would be paraded as a Russian defeat, and the latter would be used to financially bankrupt the Russian state, turn its citizens against their government, and isolate Moscow.

But, about two weeks after the first Russian tank entered Ukrainian territory, the naivety of the western plan was fully exposed. Not only did it incorrectly assess the speed at which Moscow might achieve its aims, but it thoroughly underestimated Russia’s ability to counter western punishments with its own.

The western plan has instead triggered a backlash of monumental proportions, whose first line of victims will be residents of both Europe and the United States.

Ukraine, the flint to start a fire

As the dust settled, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky began to show signs of shock and hysteria, lashing out at NATO’s “weakness,” amassing battalions of right-wing neo-Nazis to replace deserting Ukrainian army soldiers, and putting out a global call for foreign fighters to come to Ukraine and fight the Russians.

Zelensky has by now realized that NATO was only prepared to stand by his side and provoke his anti-Moscow rants until the Russian armored vehicles rolled in. He discovered quickly that he was abandoned by all, especially the United States, whose representative to the United Nations said yesterday that it would not send a single soldier or plane to Ukraine.

As oil prices skyrocketed to around US $130 per barrel this week, European countries, including Germany, Bulgaria, and France have said that they cannot manage without Russian oil and gas imports. Those words are the first tangible indication of a crack in the Atlantic alliance, and should be expected to extend to the NATO alliance as the fissures grow.

Europe ostensibly derives its strength from the power of its economy, and the so-called “common values” of the waning liberal order premised on democracy, human rights and social justice. Now, these elements are being eroded one by one as censorship, authoritarianism and war-profiteering take hold within western governance.

The masks have dropped. Those “values” are instead being rapidly replaced by overt racist sensibilities, favoring the “blond-haired and blue-eyed” citizen over all others, and mobilizing neo-Nazi and extremist movements to maintain the western “rules-based order.”

Economy is power: the western alliance collapse

The economic prosperity, security and stability enjoyed by the west since the end of the Second World War will be the first victim of this confrontation taking shape in Ukraine, and it looks near certain that financial collapse, political chaos and intra-state geographic fragmentation may ensue.

The decades of punishing sanctions imposed by the United States as an alternative to direct military intervention in North Korea, Iran, Syria, Cuba and Venezuela have not achieved their goals. They have not caused the ‘regime-change’ that was intended, and it is highly unlikely that the current sanctions on Russia, if imposed (so far, Russian oil and gas flow is paid for through the SWIFT financial system) in whole or in part, will prove an exception.

Alexander Novak, Russia’s deputy prime minister in charge of energy, warned late Monday of “catastrophic” consequences for world oil and gas markets if the US implements its threats to impose a ban on energy exports from his country.

These actions, he predicted, would result in a ten-fold rise in the price per cubic meter of natural gas and an unprecedented US $300 dollars per barrel for oil. Novak further threatened that Moscow would retaliate by halting gas supplies to Europe through their Nord Stream 1 pipeline, especially if Germany continues to suspend its Nord Stream 2 counterpart in response to US pressure and if Washington imposes a ban on Russian oil.

Nord Stream 1 currently operates at 100 percent and pumps nearly 60 billion cubic meters per year to Europe.

The United States destroyed Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Libya, and has not participated in the reconstruction of any of its destruction.

But the victim now will be Europe, which, while able to bully those weaker states, will not be able to do so with a much bigger, stronger global power like Russia, led by a shrewd geopolitical strategist like Vladimir Putin.

Europe is now lending its territories to this last American war. It is facing a nuclear power that is allied with other nuclear states like China, North Korea and, potentially, India. This time, the magic may be turned on the magician, and the destruction on the USA.

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

Russian Judo Tears the West Apart

Washington’s sanctions on Moscow will destroy Europe, not Russia

MARCH 8, 2022

Washington’s ‘replacement strategy’ for sanctioned Russian oil and gas imports appears to be to cozy up to its oil-producing arch-enemies Iran and Venezuela. Photo Credit: The Cradle

PEPE ESCOBAR  

The official Russian blacklist of hostile sanctioning nations includes the US, the EU, Canada and, in Asia, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore (the only one from Southeast Asia). Notice how that ‘international community’ keeps shrinking.

The Global South should be aware that no nations from West Asia, Latin America and Africa have joined Washington’s sanctions bandwagon.

Moscow has not even announced its own package of counter-sanctions. Yet an official decree “On Temporary Order of Obligations to Certain Foreign Creditors,” which allows Russian companies to settle their debts in rubles, provides a hint of what’s to come.

Russian counter-measures all revolve around this new presidential decree, signed last Saturday, which economist Yevgeny Yushchuk defines as a “nuclear retaliatory landmine.” .

It works like this: to pay for loans obtained from a sanctioning country exceeding 10 million rubles a month, a Russian company does not have to make a transfer. They ask for a Russian bank to open a correspondent account in rubles under the creditor’s name. Then the company transfers rubles to this account at the current exchange rate, and it’s all perfectly legal.

Payments in foreign currency only go through the Central Bank on a case-by-case basis. They must receive special permission from the Government Commission for the Control of Foreign Investment.

What this mean in practice is that the bulk of the $478 billion or so in Russian foreign debt may “disappear” from the balance sheets of western banks. The equivalent in rubles will be deposited somewhere, in Russian banks, but western banks, as things stand, can’t access it.

It is debatable whether this straightforward strategy was the product of those non-sovereignist brains gathered at the Russian Central Bank. More likely, there has been input from influential economist Sergei Glazyev, also a top former advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin on regional integration: here is a revised edition, in English, of his groundbreaking essay Sanctions and Sovereignty, which I have previously summarized.

Meanwhile, Sberbank confirmed it will issue Russia’s Mir debit/credit cards co-badged with China’s UnionPay. Alfa-Bank – the largest private bank in Russia – will also issue UnionPay credit and debit cards. Although only introduced five years ago, 40 percent of Russians already have a Mir card for domestic use. Now they will also be able to use it internationally, via UnionPay’s enormous network. And without Visa and Mastercard, commissions on all transactions will remain in the Russia-China sphere. De-dollarization in effect.

Mr. Maduro, gimme some oil

The Iran sanctions negotiations in Vienna may be reaching the last stage – as acknowledged even by Chinese diplomat Wang Qun. But it was Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov who introduced a new, crucial variable into Vienna’s final discussions.

Lavrov made his eleventh-hour demand quite explicit: “We have asked for a written guarantee…that the current [Russian sanctions] process triggered by the United States does not in any way damage our right to free and full trade, economic and investment cooperation and military-technical cooperation with the Islamic Republic.”

As per the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement of 2015, Russia receives enriched uranium from Iran and exchanges it for yellowcake, and in parallel, is reconverting Iran’s Fordow nuclear plant into a research center. Without Iranian enriched uranium exports there’s simply no JCPOA deal. It boggles the mind that US Secretary of State Blinken does not seem to understand that.

Everyone in Vienna, sidelines included, knows that for all actors to sign on the JCPOA revival, no nation must be individually targeted in terms of trading with Iran. Tehran also knows it.

So what’s happening now is an elaborate game of Persian mirrors, coordinated between Russian and Iranian diplomacy. Moscow’s Ambassador to Tehran, Levan Jagaryan, attributed the fierce reaction to Lavrov in some Iranian quarters to a “misunderstanding.” This will all be played out in the shade.

An extra element is that according to a Persian Gulf intel source with privileged Iranian access, Tehran may be selling as many as three million barrels of oil a day already, “so if they do sign a deal it will not affect supply at all, only they will be paid more.”

The US administration of President Joe Biden is now absolutely desperate: today it banned all imports of oil and gas from Russia, which happens to be the second-largest exporter of oil to the US, behind Canada and ahead of Mexico. The US’ big Russian-energy ‘replacement strategy’ is to beg for oil from Iran and Venezuela.

So, the White House sent a delegation to talk to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, led by Juan Gonzalez, the White House’s top Latin America adviser. The US offer is to “alleviate” sanctions on Caracas in exchange for oil.

The United States government has spent years – if not decades – burning all bridges with Venezuela and Iran. The USG destroyed Iraq and Libya, and isolated Venezuela and Iran, in its attempt to take over global oil markets – just to end up miserably trying to buy out both and escape from being crushed by the economic forces it has unleashed. That proves, once again, that imperial ‘policy makers’ are utterly clueless.

Caracas will request the elimination of all sanctions on Venezuela and the return of all its confiscated gold. And it seems like none of this was cleared with ‘President’ Juan Guaido, who since 2019, was the only Venezuelan leader “recognized” by Washington.

Social cohesion torn apart

Oil and gas markets, meanwhile, are in total panic. No western trader wants to buy Russian gas; and that has nothing to do with Russia’s state-owned energy behemoth Gazprom, which continues to duly supply customers that signed contracts with fixed tariffs, from $100 to $300 (others are paying over $3,000 in the spot market).

European banks are less and less willing to grant loans for energy trade with Russia because of the sanctions hysteria. A strong hint that the Russia-to-Germany gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 may be literally six feet under is that importer Wintershall-Dea wrote off its share of the financing, de facto assuming that the pipeline will not be launched.

Everyone with a brain in Germany knows that two extra Liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals – still to be constructed – will not be enough for Berlin’s needs. There is simply not enough LNG to supply them. Europe will have to fight with Asia over who can pay more. Asia wins.

Europe imports roughly 400 billion cubic meters of gas a year, with Russia responsible for 200 billion of this. There’s no way Europe can find $200 billion anywhere else to replace Russia – be it in Algeria, Qatar or Turkmenistan. Not to mention its lack of necessary LNG terminals.

So obviously the top beneficiary of all the mess will be the US – which will be able to impose not only their terminals and control systems, but also profit from loans to the EU, sales of equipment, and full access to the whole EU energy infrastructure. All LNG installations, pipelines and warehouses will be connected to a sole network with a single control room: an American business dream.

Europe will be left with reduced gas production for its – dwindling – industry; job losses; decreasing quality of life standards; increased pressure over the social security system; and, last but not least, the necessity to apply for extra American loans. Some nations will go back to coal for heating. The Green Parade will be livid.

What about Russia? As a hypothesis, even if all its energy exports were curtailed – and they won’t be, their top clients are in Asia – Russia would not have to use its foreign reserves.

The Russophobic all-out attack on Russian exports also targets palladium metals – vital for electronics, from laptops to aircraft systems. Prices are skyrocketing. Russia controls 50% of the global market. Then there are noble gases – neon, helium, argon, xenon – essential for production of microchips. Titanium has risen by a quarter, and both Boeing – by a third – and Airbus – by two thirds – rely on titanium from Russia.

Oil, food, fertilizers, strategic metals, neon gas for semiconductors: all burning at the stake, at the feet of Witch Russia.

Some Westerners who still treasure Bismarckian realpolitik have started wondering whether shielding energy (in the case of Europe) and selected commodity flows from sanctions may have everything to do with protecting an immense racket: the commodity derivatives system.

After all, if that implodes, because of a shortage of commodities, the whole western financial system blows up. Now that’s a real system failure.

The key issue for the Global South to digest is that the “west” is not committing suicide. What we have here, essentially, is the United States willfully destroying German industry and the European economy – bizarrely, with their connivance.

To destroy the European economy means not allowing extra market space for China, and blocking the inevitable extra trade which will be a direct consequence of closer exchanges between the EU and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world’s biggest trade deal.

The end result will be the US eating European savings for lunch while China expands its middle class to over 500 million people. Russia will do just fine, as Glazyev outlines: sovereign – and self-sufficient.

American economist Michael Hudson has concisely sketched the lineaments of imperial self-implosion. Yet way more dramatic, as a strategic disaster, is how the deaf, dumb and blind parade toward deep recession and near-hyperinflation will rip what’s left of the west’s social cohesion apart. Mission Accomplished.

(Republished from The Cradle by permission of author or representative)

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Russia Warns Washington Is Sending ISIS Fighters to Ukraine

March 06, 2022

Global Research,

By The Cradle

The Cradle 5 March 2022

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Today, the dangers of military escalation are beyond description.

What is now happening in Ukraine has serious geopolitical implications. It could lead us into a World War III scenario.

It is important that a peace process be initiated with a view to preventing escalation. 

Global Research condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

A Bilateral Peace Agreement is required.


The foreign intelligence service of Russia (SVR RF) warned on 4 March that the US and NATO countries are sending ISIS fighters from Syria to Ukraine.

The ISIS members, who are reportedly headed to Ukraine, underwent special training at the US army’s Al-Tanf military base in Syria.

The SVR also stated that similar extremist groups are being recruited throughout West Asia and North Africa. The militants will allegedly enter Ukraine through Poland.

Video: NATO Too Weak to Face Russia? Scott Ritter on Russian Offensive

The SVR statement detailed the history of the secret operation they uncovered, saying in a statement: “At the end of 2021, the Americans released from prisons … several dozen Daesh terrorists, including citizens of Russia and CIS countries. These individuals were sent to the US-controlled Al-Tanf base, where they have undergone special training in subversive and terrorist warfare methods with a focus on the Donbass region.”

The US claims that the illegal presence of their troops in northeast Syria is to protect the country’s vast oilfields from falling under the control of ISIS.

Neither Moscow nor Damascus believe this official explanation, with the latter accusing the US of using it as an excuse to steal Syrian oil.

However, ISIS fighters are not the only foreign militants to be recruited to join the fight against Russia in Ukraine.

According to Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov, private military contractors have poured into Ukraine from around the world.

“US military intelligence has launched a large scale propaganda campaign to recruit PMC [private military company] contractors to be sent to Ukraine. First of all, employees of the American PMCs, Academi, Cubic, and Dyn Corporation are being recruited. […] Only last week, about 200 mercenaries from Croatia arrived through Poland, and joined one of the nationalist battalions in the southeast of Ukraine,” Konashenkov said.

Both Iraq and Syria have accused the US of supporting and transferring ISIS fighters within the region.

Earlier this year, The Cradle reported that US forces transferred dozens of ISIS detainees, including high-ranking commanders, to Deir Ezzor governorate, which is close to the Iraqi border. This was reportedly an attempt to “revive ISIS” for the purposes of destabilizing a region that had recently been liberated by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) with the help of Russian troops.

In August last year, similar reports surfaced after a high-ranking officer from Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) reported that their thermal cameras detected US military helicopters transferring ISIS fighters to different locations around the country.

Russia launched a special military operation in Ukraine on 24 February after responding to the call for assistance by the newly-recognized republics of Dontesk and Luhansk.

Despite recognition of their independence by Russia, Ukrainian armed forces continued to shell civilian targets and to breach the borders of the two republics, prompting the leaders of the republics to formally ask Russia for military assistance.

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Copyright © The CradleThe Cradle, 2022

Will Ukraine become a headquarters for ISIS in the world? And any repercussions for Europe?
A world federation of neo-Nazis.. Fatwas, mobilization, misinformation

How the Ukraine crisis impacts middle east politics

4 Mar 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen

Robert Inlakesh 

The Ukraine crisis complicated the situation in the middle east [West Asia] for many parties allied with the US, as “Israel” and the UAE find it more difficult to balance their relations between their Patreon and Russia.

The problem for “Israel” is, that if they pick a fight with Russia at any point, this could be extremely detrimental to them

The ongoing war in Ukraine, which is being framed as a marker for the beginning of the ‘New Cold War’ between East and West, is already taking its toll on Middle East politics and for the likes of “Israel” and the United Arab Emirates, this spells potential disaster.

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine on February 24, when Russian forces officially announced their ‘special military operation in the Donbas’, Middle East powers have all had their relationships put to the test. “Israel” is perhaps the most reported on, as it is directly part of the Western camp, and its hesitancy to aggravate Russia has been telling, but beyond this, there has also been a big question mark around which side the Arab regimes will take too.

In the case of “Israel”, after releasing careful statements during the early days of the war, about Ukraine’s sovereignty and pledging to support its people, without mentioning Moscow at all, they then went a step further in the recent United Nations General Assembly vote, condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Currently, Tel Aviv maintains a close relationship with both Moscow and Washington, but it has made it clear at this point that when push comes to shove it is the United States’ interests they will defend over the interests of Russia.

So far this has not meant a fully-fledged feud between the two sides, but for sure the Israeli arming of the Ukrainians and their backing of NATO’s argument has not aided relations. It is likely Moscow is still trying to use the Israelis as a go-between for diplomatic efforts, but the problem for “Israel” is, that if they pick a fight with Russia at any point, this could be extremely detrimental to them. A hostile Russia, combined with a hostile Iran, both in Syria, could mean major trouble.

For the United Arab Emirates, which aspires to become a regional powerhouse and attempts to balance its relationship with pretty much every key international player, it has too, run into a major problem. Its relationship with Washington, although tight, is now being put to the test and the fact that it abstained at the UNGA vote is a message that Abu Dhabi seeks a clear middle-ground position between the US and Russia. But just as its normalization deal with the Israeli regime has now put it in the middle of a tug-of-war between Tel Aviv and Tehran, the Ukraine crisis has placed it in a similar position between Washington and Moscow. The UAE wants it all, US weapons, but a close relationship with China and Russia, Israeli economic cooperation but also trade with Iran. This could spell disaster if it decides to cross the line, of one of the many sides, at any point.

Saudi Arabia is a key US ally, the current crisis – due to US sanctions on Russia – has sent the prices of oil to a high not witnessed since 2012. Riyadh has been expected, as has the UAE, to pump more crude oil in order to lower the oil prices and balance the market, but so far that has not happened. Instead, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman is allegedly demanding the US Biden administration recognise him as the de-facto ruler of the Saudi regime and offer more direct support for Riyadh’s devastating war on Yemen, according to Reuters reports.

Although the US and its British allies in London have been directly supporting the Saudis offensive war in Yemen, Riyadh evidently does not like Joe Biden’s public appearance as being an anti-Saudi president. The KSA voted against Russia in the General Assembly, the US also launched airstrikes on Yemen when Russian forces began their offensive in Ukraine, but now seems to be the moment of truth when it comes to US politics. We will now see just how convincing Washington’s statesmen are, although many people are asking why this issue wasn’t resolved before as the US had been warning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine for weeks.

The issue of US relations with the Gulf countries is really key here, as from the get-go the United States has been attempting to bring them on the side, specifically Qatar. The US clearly needs an alternative supply source for oil and gas to Europe, if it is going to maintain its crushing sanctions on Moscow. But the problem still remains, an issue that Doha has itself pointed out, there is no one nation that can be the alternative here. 

Then we have Iran and the ongoing talks in Vienna to revive the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA), or the nuclear deal, which seems to have been moved in a more positive direction. The United States has significantly changed its tone from that of last year, it’s purged many of the more hawkishly anti-Iran voices from its negotiating team and the Ukraine crisis may prove to push the US into an agreement on this front.

The difference between President Joe Biden and his predecessor Donald Trump, is that they represent two different camps in the United States; Biden, the liberal imperialists, and Trump, the neoconservatives. The neoconservatives seem to be hawkishly focused on attacking China and Iran, whilst caring less about Russia and their focus on NATO is also not as intense as the liberal imperialists. Whereas the liberal imperialist camp are much more inclined towards strengthening their ties with the EU and NATO, making Russia a real target, whilst their line on China and Iran is still hawkish, they approach these issues differently.

We are now seeing the liberal imperialist agenda in full swing. If the Biden administration wants to relieve some of the burden he has placed on the shoulders of his European allies, reviving the JCPOA may serve as a good gesture towards them. The European powers want to do business with Iran, but under the Trump administration, none of them dared to step out of line on this front. The potential Iran nuclear deal revival would be a good thing for both the Europeans and the Iranians. 

All the points mentioned above barely scratch the surface of the entire picture; not going into the testing of Algeria’s and Turkey’s relationships with Russia, both of which are being heavily tested over both nations being presented with the possibility to provide part of the answer to the severing of oil and gas supplies from Russia to Europe. Yet, one thing is clear from what has been noted above, the absolute mess that the two camps – one aligned with the Democrats and the other the Republicans – have caused on the world stage. This is a real test of Washington’s diplomatic and strategic talent, one which it seems to be failing at so far.

The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

The Gulf states and Ukraine: Why are Washington’s Arab allies tilting in different directions?

The divergence in views may indicate geopolitical shifts in the Persian Gulf, but may equally be tactics employed to gain leverage with Washington

March 02 2022

By Abdel Bari Atwan

Israel may have made up its mind to back the US side in Ukraine’s raging crisis, but Tel Aviv’s covert and overt Arab allies in the Persian Gulf remain uncomfortably divided over the issue.

While some have voiced support for Moscow’s position and others have denounced Russia’s military invasion of eastern Ukraine, the ‘Arab majority’ has remained neutral, issuing non-committal statements about dialogue, political solutions, and respect for the principles of international law.

Four specific stances taken by Arab and Gulf states are worth analyzing in order to understand the shifts taking place in West Asia right now:

First is the unusual pro-Russian posture struck by Saudi Arabia in the statement issued after a telephone conversation between French President Emmanuel Macron and Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman (MbS). The statement spelled out the kingdom’s continued commitment to the ‘OPEC+’ agreement on oil production levels it brokered with Russia. This was an implicit thumbs-down to US pressure on Riyadh to increase production and drive down prices, which would ease strains on western economies.

Second is Qatar’s oblique official support for the US side and condemnation of Russia, reflected in Foreign Minister Sheikh Muhammad bin Abdulrahman Al Thani’s declaration that his country stands by “Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.” That means opposing Russia’s recognition of the breakaway eastern Ukrainian republics of Donetsk and Lugansk and its military intervention in their support.

Third is the abstention of the UAE, currently a rotating member of the UN Security Council, in its vote on a US-authored draft resolution condemning Russia’s aggression against Ukraine in the strongest terms and demanding the immediate withdrawal of its forces.

Fourth is the utter impartiality of the Arab League. The statement issued after its emergency meeting of permanent representatives – called for by Egypt and chaired by Kuwait – avoided condemning or endorsing the Russian move, and sufficed with flowery language about the need to respect the UN Charter and international law and support efforts to resolve the crisis peacefully.

A US-Gulf leverage game

All Gulf oil and gas producers have an obvious interest in maintaining the sky-high world energy prices that are being driven even higher by the crisis.

But Saudi Arabia’s affirmation of its commitment to the production deal it reached with Russia goes beyond this. It is sure to cause a bust-up with the US administration and President Joe Biden, who incidentally, has refused to meet with MbS since his inauguration.

Biden himself called King Salman to urge a hike in Saudi output to flood the market and bring down prices, in order to support the US and European economies and make up for any reduction in Russian oil supplies during the Ukraine crisis.

This clear challenge to Saudi Arabia’s historical strategic protector and ally can be seen as a warning to the White House: Riyadh may flip over to the Russian side if Biden continues to ignore, not recognize, and refuse to speak with the kingdom’s de facto ruler Muhammad bin Salman. Biden has insisted on dealing only with King Salman, a rule broken at least twice by Macron.

The Ukraine crisis, which could develop into a third world war, is being treated as an ‘if you’re not with us you’re against us’ issue. The US administration is unlikely to tolerate any even-handedness or neutrality on the part of its Gulf allies, especially Saudi Arabia, which has yet to officially comment on the war.

The question being asked in Gulf political corridors is whether MbS can withstand Washington’s wrath at his surprise entente with Russia, and what the consequences might be.

The same question can be addressed to Qatar and its ruler, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. He firmly took the US side in his foreign minister’s veiled condemnation of the invasion. This will not endear him to his Russian partners in the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF), which held a summit-level meeting in Doha last week that President Vladimir Putin did not attend.

Qatar’s volte-face began when Biden invited Sheikh Tamim to Washington on 31 January and the latter agreed to use Qatari gas to help make up for any shortfall in Russian gas supplies to Europe due to the Ukraine crisis. He is the only Gulf leader to have met with Biden in the White House, where he was elevated to the status of ‘major non-NATO ally.’

This designation bumped Qatar above the Saudis and Emiratis, who have typically been more strategically aligned with the US government. Observers understood the tactical move to be about securing Qatari gas in case events in Ukraine turned sour.

The UAE’s neutral position on Ukraine comes amidst its own fresh challenges with Washington.

Once the US’s most valued Gulf ally, in December the Emiratis suspended a multi-billion dollar acquisition of US F-35 fighter jets, and in February announced that it would purchase a dozen Chinese L-15 training and light combat aircraft, with an option to buy 36 more.

The UAE’s neutrality on Ukraine is likely to stem from the country’s recent moves to swap out its muscular foreign policy – that saw disasters in Syria and Yemen – with the soft-power variety, which leads with trade and diplomacy, and is more independent of Washington.

Unprecedented recent visits by top Emirati officials to meet counterparts in Turkey, Iran and Syria attest to this new direction, as the UAE seeks out new partnerships to balance its rivalries with Gulf neighbors Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Abu Dhabi’s abstention on the Ukraine vote at the UN just adds fuel to Washington’s existing dissatisfaction.

Neutrality may win the day

This clear divergence between Gulf states over Ukraine has been reflected in their media’s coverage of the crisis.

Viewers have detected a tilt to the Russian viewpoint by Saudi Arabia’s flagship al-Arabiya channel. Qatar’s Al Jazeera channel has reflected the US/European view, despite attempts to give its rolling coverage the appearance of professional impartiality. For its part, Abu Dhabi-owned Sky News Arabia stood somewhere in between.

It is unclear whether the UAE’s abstention in the Security Council vote on Ukraine was cleared beforehand with the US administration. If not, it will cause trouble in Abu Dhabi’s relationship with Washington and incur US wrath in some form or other. And there may not be enough time to repair any damage.

The Arabs have no stake in this war. Neutrality, for those who can find a way of opting for it, is the wisest position to take. The African proverb “when elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers” applies here, specifically to the Gulf states.

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

Hezbollah chief blames Washington for ‘inciting’ the crisis between Russia and Ukraine

The resistance leader also criticized western media’s racist approach to West Asian and African refugees of US-led wars

March 01 2022

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah (Photo credit: AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

ByNews Desk 

During a speech on 1 March, Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said that the US is to blame for pushing the conflict between Russia and Ukraine into a “full-scale war.”

“Washington has done everything to push for the current scenario… The US is responsible for what is happening in Ukraine and it incited in this direction,” the Lebanese resistance leader said in a televised address commemorating slain Hezbollah leader Abbas al-Moussawi.

“The consequences of what is happening in Russia and Ukraine are dangerous to the world, and the situation is open to all possibilities,” he warned before condemning western nations for showing “double standards compared to their attitudes toward US wars.”

He also said that western countries are doing “everything against Russia except for direct combat.”

Nasrallah went on to condemn the inaction by western countries after Washington stole billions of dollars from Afghanistan earlier this month.

“A strong and arrogant America, the world is silent about its injustice, the latest of which is Biden’s theft of the Afghan people’s money. The Afghan Central Bank has $7 billion in the US, which Biden made a decision to divide and donate half of it to the victims of 9/11,” Nasrallah said.

The Hezbollah secretary general went on to say that what is happening in Ukraine should serve as a “lesson” to those who trust and rely on Washington’s promises.

In a previous address after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, Nasrallah drew the same conclusion about the US betraying its allies in the region.

Nasrallah also heavily criticized the response of western media to the crisis in Ukraine, highlighting how a majority of these outlets have spread racist rhetoric in regards to West Asian and African refugees of US-led wars.

The resistance leader asked: “How did the world behave when the US invaded Afghanistan, Iraq, [and others] and how is it behaving now, as Russia started its military operation in Ukraine?”

From the Black Sea to the East Med, don’t poke The Russian Bear

February 24 2022

The US shouldn’t have poked the Russian Bear. Now it is fully awake: after Ukraine, the Russians are likely to do a clean sweep of foreign belligerents poking around the East Med and the Black Sea.

Russia endured eight years of NATO provocations in Ukraine before it roared. Now it will clean house in West Asia and beyond.Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Pepe Escobar

This is what happens when a bunch of ragged hyenas, jackals and tiny rodents poke The Bear: a new geopolitical order is born at breathtaking speed.

From a dramatic meeting of the Russian Security Council to a UN history lesson delivered by Russian President Vladimir Putin and the subsequent birth of the Baby Twins – the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk – all the way to the breakaway republics’ appeal to Putin to intervene militarily to expel the NATO-backed Ukrainian bombing-and-shelling forces from Donbass, it was a seamless process, executed at warp speed.

The (nuclear) straw that (nearly) broke the Bear’s back – and forced it to pounce – was Comedian/Ukrainian President Volodymy Zelensky, back from the Russophobia-drenched Munich Security Conference where he was hailed like a Messiah, saying that the 1994 Budapest memorandum should be revised and Ukraine should be nuclear-rearmed.

That would be the equivalent of a nuclear Mexico south of the Hegemon.

Putin immediately turned Responsibility to Protect (R2P) upside down: an American construct invented to launch wars was retrofitted to stop a slow-motion genocide in Donbass.

First came the recognition of the Baby Twins – Putin’s most important foreign policy decision since inserting Russian jets into Syria’s airspace in 2015. That was the preamble for the next game-changer: a “special military operation…aimed at demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine,” as Putin defined it.

Up to the last minute, the Kremlin was trying to rely on diplomacy, explaining to Kiev the necessary imperatives to prevent heavy metal thunder: recognition of Crimea as Russian; abandoning any plans to join NATO; negotiating directly with the Baby Twins – an anathema for the Americans since 2015; finally, demilitarizing and declaring Ukraine as neutral.

Kiev’s handlers, predictably, would never accept the package – as they didn’t accept the Master Package that really matters, which is the Russian demand for “indivisible security.”

The sequence, then, became inevitable. In a flash, all Ukrainian military forces between the so-called line of contact and the original borders of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts were re-framed as an occupying army in Russian-allied territories that Moscow had just sworn to protect.

Get Out – Or Else

The Kremlin and the Russian Ministry of Defense were not bluffing. Timed to the end of Putin’s speech announcing the operation, the Russians decapitated with precision missiles everything that mattered in terms of the Ukrainian military in just one hour: Air force, navy, airfields, bridges, command and control centers, the whole Turkish Bayraktar drone fleet.

And it was not only Russian raw power. It was the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) artillery that hit the Armed Forces of Ukraine headquarters in Donbass, which actually housed the entire Ukrainian military command. This means that the Ukrainian General Staff instantly lost control of all its troops.

This was Shock and Awe against Iraq, 19 years ago, in reverse: not for conquest, not as a prelude for an invasion and occupation. The political-military leadership in Kiev did not even have time to declare war. They froze. Demoralized troops started deserting. Total defeat – in one hour.

The water supply to Crimea was instantly re-established. Humanitarian corridors were set up for the deserters. Ukrainian forces remnants now include mostly surviving Azov batallion Nazis, mercenaries trained by the usual Blackwater/Academi suspects, and a bunch of Salafi-jihadis.

Predictably, western corporate media has already gone totally berserk, branding it as the much-awaited Russian ‘invasion.’ A reminder: when Israel routinely bombs Syria and when the House of One Saudi routinely bombs Yemeni civilians, there is never any peep in NATO’s media.

As it stands, realpolitik spells out a possible endgame, as voiced by Donetsk’s head, Denis Pushilin: “The special operation in Donbass will soon be over and all the cities will be liberated.”

We could soon witness the birth of an independent Novorossiya – east of the Dnieper, south along Sea of Azov/Black Sea, the way it was when attached to Ukraine by Lenin in 1922. But now it would be totally aligned with Russia, and providing a land bridge to Transnistria.

Ukraine, of course, would lose any access to the Black Sea. History loves playing tricks: what was a ‘gift’ to Ukraine in 1922 may become a parting gift a hundred years later.

It’s creative destruction time

It will be fascinating to watch what Prof. Sergey Karaganov masterfully described, in detail, as the new Putin doctrine of constructive destruction, and how it will interconnect with West Asia, the Eastern Mediterranean and further on down the Global South road.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the ceremonial NATO Sultan, denounced the recognition of the Baby Twins as “unacceptable.” No wonder: that shift smashed all his elaborate plans to pose as privileged mediator between Moscow and Kiev during Putin’s upcoming visit to Ankara. The Kremlin – as well as the Foreign Ministry – don’t waste time talking to NATO minions.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, for his part, had a recent, very productive entente with Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad. Russia, this past weekend, has staged a spectacular strategic missile display, hypersonic and otherwise, featuring Khinzal, Zircon, Kalibr, Yars ICBMs, Iskander and Sineva  – irony of ironies, in synch with the Russophobia-fest in Munich. In parallel, Russian Navy ships of the Pacific, Northern and Black Sea fleets performed a series of submarine search drills in the Mediterranean.

The Putin doctrine privileges the asymmetrical – and that applies to the near abroad and beyond. Putin’s body language, in his last two crucial interventions, spell out nearly maximum exasperation. As in realizing, not auspiciously, but rather in resignation, that the only language Beltway Neo-conservatives and ‘humanitarian imperialists’ understand is heavy metal thunder. They are definitely deaf, dumb and blind to history, geography and diplomacy.

So, one can always game the Russian military – for instance, imposing a no-fly zone in Syria to conduct a series of visits by Mr. Khinzal not only to the Turk-protected shady jihadist umbrella in Idlib but also the jihadists protected by the Americans in Al-Tanf base, near the Syria-Jordan border. After all, these specimens are all NATO proxies.

The US government barks non-stop about “territorial sovereignty.” So let’s game the Kremlin asking the White House for a road map on getting out of Syria: after all the Americans are illegally occupying a section of Syrian territory and adding extra disaster to the Syrian economy by stealing their oil.

NATO’s stultifying leader, Jens Stoltenberg, has announced the alliance is dusting off its “defense plans.” That may include little more than hiding behind their expensive Brussels desks. They are as inconsequential in the Black Sea as in the East Med – as the US remains quite vulnerable in Syria.

There are now four Russian TU-22M3 strategic bombers in Russia’s Hmeimim base in Syria, each capable of carrying three S-32 anti-ship missiles that fly at supersonic Mach 4.3 with a range of 1,000 km. No Aegis system is able to handle them.

Russia also has stationed a few Mig-31Ks in Syria’s coastal region in Latakia equipped with hypersonic Khinzals – more than enough to sink any kind of US surface group, including aircraft carriers, in the East Med. The US has no air defense mechanism whatsoever with even a minimal chance of intercepting them.

So the rules have changed. Drastically. The Hegemon is naked. The new deal starts with turning the post-Cold War set-up in Eastern Europe completely upside down. The East Med will be next. The Bear is back, hear him roar.

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

دلالات ترشيح الجنرال كوريلا للقيادة المركزية*

الجمعة 18 فبراير 2022

د. منذر سليمان وجعفر الجعفري

 بلورت الاستراتيجية الأميركية الكونية عداءها المتأصل للاتحاد السوفياتي، ثم لروسيا، منذ اعتمادها «مبدأ ترومان» وخطة مارشال لـ «إعادة إعمار أوروبا الغربية»، بعد الحرب العالمية الثانية، وما نجم عنها من تطور في هياكل المؤسسة العسكرية، في كل أذرعها، وتشكيلها لهيئة الأركان المشتركة، على ضوء التجارب المستفادة من سلسلة حروب منذ الحرب العالمية الأولى.

 المنحى الراهن لتلك الاستراتيجية، والمتمثّل بالمبالغة في العداء لروسيا، أولاً وتلقائياً للصين، في وجهيها السياسي والعسكري، أُجمع عليه منذ العام 2014، بحسب العسكريين الأميركيين، خلال ولاية الرئيس باراك اوباما، وحافظت إدارة الرئيس جو بايدن على منسوب العداء صعوداً مضطرداً. اعتمدت تلك الاستراتيجية نزعة توتير الأجواء الدولية، وشن حروب لا متناهية منذ ذاك التاريخ، وتجديد تشكيل تحالفات جوهرها إعادة الاعتبار إلى ريادة واشنطن عالمياً، باستحضار ما يعدّه استراتيجو السياسة الأميركية «ترسيخ عقيدة الردع النووي والقصف الاستراتيجي».

 تلك المهمّات والأهداف العليا استدعت إدخال تعديلات جوهرية في هيكل القيادة العسكرية الموحّدة، والتي تأتي نتاجاً طبيعياً لمبدأ أقرّه الكونغرس في عام 1986، عُرف بقانون «غولدووتر ـ نيكولز»، كناية عن جهد مشترك لعضوي مجلس الشيوخ آنذاك، باري غولدووتر وويليام نيكولز، مفاده إيكال مهمـّات القرار العملياتي إلى «قيادات قتالية موحّدة» مركزية، وإبعادها عن التقليد السابق من قيادات الأفرع الاستراتيجية (القوات البرية والبحرية والطيران).

 بحسب قانون «غولدووتر ـ نيكولز»، تمّ تعريف تراتبية هرم القرار العسكري، بدءاً برئيس البلاد (البيت الأبيض)، يليه وزير الدفاع، ثم القيادات القتالية الموحّدة، والذي استغرق نحو سنتين من الدراسة والمشاورات لتعديل هرمية «قانون الأمن القومي»، لعام 1947، والذي شكّل الإطار «القانوني» لإدارة عمليات الحرب الباردة والحروب الإقليمية الأخرى.

كانت المهمة الأولى منوطة بوزير الدفاع، ثم الأفرع المتعددة. بعبارة أخرى، تخضع تلك «الأفرع الاستراتيجية»، راهناً، للقيادة المركزية الأميركية، وفق نطاق عملياتها المحددة (تقرير أجرته هيئة «الخدمات البحثية للكونغرس»، تموز/ يوليو 2012، حول «خطة القيادة الموحّدة» وتحديثات لاحقة تجريها كل عامين، بحسب الظروف).

 تقدّم هذه الخلفية إطلالة واقعية على محورية «القيادة المركزية» الأميركية ونطاق عملها ومسؤولياتها في الشرق الأوسط، والتي تشمل «21 دولة تمتدّ من مصر إلى كازخستان شرقاً»، مسرحها العراق وسورية واليمن وأفغانستان، وإدارة أعمال الأسطول الخامس في منطقة الخليج وبحر العرب والبحر الأحمر، والتعاون مع الاسطول السادس في البحر الأبيض المتوسط.

 في استطاعة المرء القول إنّ اختيار الجنرال مايكل كوريلا لرئاسة «القيادة المركزية»، جاء ثمرة نقاشات عسكرية وسياسية معمّقة، «وكان متوقّعاً منذ بضعة أشهر»، بحسب جنرالات البنتاغون.

تمّ منح كوريلا وسام النجمة الرابعة في العُرف العسكري، وهو سيخلف الجنرال الحالي مارك ميللي، كما أنه ذو النجوم الثلاث. ما يميزه، تراتبياً وعسكرياً، هو خبرته الميدانية القتالية والقيادية الطويلة، وخوض عمليات «مكافحة الإرهاب»، بدءاً بالغزو الأميركي لبنما عام 1989، والقصف الجوي المكثف ليوغسلافيا 1999، وحروب الشرق الأوسط المتتالية: «عاصفة الصحراء» ضد العراق في عام 1991، والغزو الأميركي للعراق عام 2003، مروراً بالعدوان على أفغانستان عام 2001 والحرب الكونية على سورية منذ آذار/ مارس 2011. وتشير سيرته الذاتية الرسمية إلى تعرّضه لإصابات خطيرة في إبان معركة الموصل في عام 2005، كوفئ في أثرها بوسامين عسكريين. ثم تولّى منصب قائد الفرقة 82 المحمولة جواً، والدائمة الحضور في الغزوات الأميركية المتعددة عبر العالم، الأمر الذي أهّله لنيل وسام النجمة الرابعة «نظير شجاعته». وكان أحدث منصب له قائداً للفيلق 18 المحمول جواً.

 تعرّف العالم إلى عقلية المرشح الجديد للقيادة المركزية الأميركية، مايكل كوريلا، وتوجهاته، خلال مثوله في جلسة استجواب أمام لجنة القوات المسلحة في مجلس الشيوخ، في 8 شباط/ فبراير الحالي، مؤكداً فيها جملة من المواقف الاستراتيجية الأميركية، وخصوصاً في الشرق الأوسط.

 قالت صحيفة النخب الليبرالية الأميركية، «واشنطن بوست»، إن مايك كوريلا هو الأوسع خبرة في الشرق الأوسط، وإنه «سيُجري تقييماً للخيارات العسكرية التي يمكن أن تساعد وزارة الخارجية في مهماتها». ومن أهمّ ما جاء في شهادته وإجاباته، المواقف التالية:

 ضرورة استمرار انخراط الولايات المتحدة في شؤون الشرق الأوسط نظراً إلى أهميته في منافسة كلّ من الصين وروسيا؛ تمثّل طهران الرقم 1 في زعزعة الاستقرار في الشرق الأوسط؛ أيّ اتفاق قابل للتنفيذ يجب أن يضمن عدم حصول إيران على سلاح نووي؛ معارضة إجراءات إعفاء إيران من العقوبات في مقابل تعهّدها وقف مسارها لاقتناء سلاح نووي؛ إيلاء أهمية أعلى لتقنية الذكاء الاصطناعي وتسخيرها في مواجهة إيران؛ إيران تقدّم الدعم المالي إلى حركة «أنصار الله» وميليشيات أخرى في العراق وسورية؛ ضرورة مبادرة أميركا من أجل تطوير نظام دفاع جوي وصارخي متكامل في منطقة الخليج؛ الغزو الروسي لأوكرانيا سيعزّز دور روسيا، وخصوصاً بعد نجاحه في التمدّد والنفوذ في سورية، حيث القواعد والقوات الروسية هناك.

 كان لافتاً أيضاً، خلال شهادته، استدراره عطف مناوئي الانسحاب من أفغانستان، وما رافقه من جدل واسع لم يتراجع إلاّ بفعل تجدد الأولويات الاستراتيجية نحو مواجهة روسيا في أوكرانيا. وذكّر أعضاء اللجنة البالغة التأثير في القرار السياسي بأن «مسرح القيادة المركزية يضم 9 من مجموع 10 من أشد المنظمات الإرهابية خطورة في العالم».

 في هذا الشأن، ركّز كوريلا على عدم اعتبار نظام طالبان شرعياً واتهامه برفض ادانته لتنظيمي القاعدة و»داعش» – فرع خراسان، ومساعيهما الجارية لإعادة تنظيم صفوفهما، ولما يمثلانه من تهديد مباشر للأراضي الأميركية، مسترشداً بما سمّاه «إطلاق طالبان سراح معتقلي قاعدة باغرام» عقب سيطرته على العاصمة كابل.

وأوضح كوريلا أنّ عمليات «الاستطلاع الجوي فوق أفغانستان لم تعد بذات الفعالية المبتغاة ذاتها، نظراً إلى طول المسافة التي تستغرقها رحلات الطيران، وتستهلك نحو ثلثي الزمن المفترض، والتداعيات الميدانية المتمثلة بتغيير وجهة المستهدف الناجمة عنها «.

وبناء على توجُّهاته التي أفصح عنها، مداورة أحياناً، اعتبر كوريلا أنّ هناك ضرورة ماسّة لإنشاء نظام دفاعي جوي وراداري مشترك، يدمج القدرات المتوافرة لدى «دول مجلس التعاون الخليجي والأردن و»إسرائيل»، والتنسيق مع الجهة الموكّلة بمهام إطلاق صواريخ الدفاع الجوي» من ترسانتها.

تلك التصريحات والتوجهات الهادفة، معطوفة على الخبرة الميدانية للمرشّح كوريلا، تؤهله لمصادقة اللجنة المحورية، ثم جلسة مجلس الشيوخ بكامل أعضائها، لتوليه منصب قائد القيادة المركزية الأميركية، من دون عوائق أو عقبات مرئية.

*بالتعاون مع “الميادين”

In Ukraine crisis, will Iran emerge a winner and Israel a loser?

West Asian developments play second fiddle to the Great Power battle over Ukraine. But regional states must pick a side because events in Kiev will trickle

February 15 2022

Even in West Asia there will be winners and losers over the stand-off in Ukraine.

By Abdel Bari Atwan

If we look at the developments of the Ukrainian crisis through a West Asian lens, and measure up the potential profit and loss scenarios for regional players, it is likely that Iran may be the biggest winner, and Israel the biggest loser.

Let’s start with Iran. This worsening crisis between the Russian-Chinese axis on the one hand, and the American-European alliance on the other, could not come at a better time for Tehran.

The Ukraine stand-off, which has captured the world’s attention, has significantly reduced Iran’s ranking on the list of US priorities by several degrees, and in turn, eased western pressures in the Vienna nuclear negotiations, which is barely a blip these days on the evening news.

Moreover, the blanket western disinformation campaign against a yet-unseen ‘Russia invasion’ really bolsters Moscow’s – and even Beijing’s – desire to strengthen strategic relations with Iran and other US-sanctioned states to fortify a rival axis that can challenge American aggression everywhere.

Let’s then consider Israel – Iran’s arch-enemy – and most Arab states in West Asia, who although clearly pro-US, have strived for decades to maintain a healthy ‘public’ neutrality in great power conflicts. In the event of an actual Russia-NATO clash, directly or through proxies, this fragile balance will now be tested rigorously, for it seems no state can remain neutral in times like these.

Names and numbers will be taken, alliances will be questioned, and silence will be punished. This is a certainty where Washington is concerned – as witnessed when Jordan was punished for staying neutral in the first Iraq war, and France in the second.

***

Let’s look at how this works in reality. Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government made a request for military assistance from Israel, as revealed by Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid after his Sunday meeting with Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister Amina Gavrova. Lapid promised to study the request, and herein lies Tel Aviv’s biggest test:

If the Israelis agree to send weapons to Kiev, the Russians will be angered. If Israel remains silent and ignores the response, it will lead to a frigid resentment from the western camp, and NATO specifically.

In the past, Tel Aviv has managed to easily walk the tightrope between the great powers by invoking the Holocaust, concentrations camps, Russia’s role in defeating the Nazi army in WWII, preservation of Jewish interests in Ukraine (50,000 Jews) and Russia (230,000) – but those arguments have little relevance in the coming conflict.

Tel Aviv will want to prevent any war in order to avoid making the hazardous choice between the Russians and Americans – where neutrality is forbidden. It tried to offer up a mediation summit in Jerusalem to resolve the crisis, but was ignored by Moscow or Washington, who could care less about West Asia at this moment.

Iran, meanwhile, stands satisfied in the shadows, neither aggravating nor weighing in on Ukrainian matters. Tehran resolved its position early on by standing in the Russian-Chinese trench, while Israel, to its utter mortification, really has only one choice.

Tel Aviv will have to stand in the US-European trench eventually, which will lead to the loss of its privileged relations with Russia, the consequences of which it will ultimately bear in Syria, Iran, and the entire West Asian region.

Some argue that the crisis in Ukraine could benefit Israel which may use the pretext of an impending war to lure Ukrainian Jews there for their ‘safety.’

But there are already one million Russian immigrants in occupied Palestine, half of them either non-Jews or non-practicing, and a large proportion of these lean toward Moscow, and President Putin in particular. In the event of a large influx of Ukrainian Jews, sponsored by Israel, the Russians already there for several decades could transform into a “fifth column” for Russia, their motherland.

In recent days, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tried to adopt the intermediary role – that Israel is now seeking – to extract himself from a similar dilemma. He tried to cloak his bias towards Ukraine by presenting himself as a mediator in this crisis, but was also ignored.

Erdogan is already too neck-deep in his Ukraine faux pas for Putin to forgive. In recent months, Turkey and Ukraine have been discussing the joint production of ships, turbine engines and military aircraft. The Turkish president has sent around 500 Turkish Bayraktar drones worth $69 million to Ukraine, condemned the Russian annexation of Crimea, and dropped into Kiev for a photo op at the height of the crisis.

***

There were two messages addressed to Israel in the past seven days, both intended to impart serious warnings:

The first missive was the firing of a Syrian missile into Israel, which landed in the northern city of Um al-Fahm in retaliation for an Israeli missile strike on southern Damascus. This Syrian response could only have been sent with advance coordination with Moscow, and possibly even at its behest.

The second missive came from Iran, in a statement by the nation’s Supreme National Security Council Secretary-General Ali Shamkhani, who said: “The nuclear negotiations have reached a critical stage, and it depends on an Iranian political decision to accept or reject the conditions.”

The first message is that a firmer Syrian response to the Israeli raids may be imminent, and it may depend on Israel’s position on the Ukraine crisis. The second message confirms that Tehran is sticking to its guns on all its international positions, including the Vienna negotiations that Israel has tried hard to sabotage, and that Iran is immovable regardless of whether an agreement is reached or not. Maintaining its nuclear edge and ambiguity suits Iran just fine.

The global spotlight moving to Ukraine has only strengthened the Resistance Axis in West Asia and provided it with a greater variety of hard and soft cards to play – cards that the Russians will appreciate, but Israel may come to regret.

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

How normalization with “Israel” assassinated Egypt’s economy

February 16, 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen

By Mona Issa

Economic prosperity? Anything but. After 40+ years, “peace” negotiations with “Israel” turned Egypt into a sluggish, aid-dependent rent economy.

At the bottom: 17 September, 1978: Anwar Sadat, Jimmy Carter, and Menachim Begin signing on the Camp David Accords. At the top: The 2013 Egyptian bread crisis, a result of economic assassination. 

There is no war without Egypt, and no peace without Syria – words Henry Kissinger, Nixon’s Secretary of State, uttered in the depiction of the strategic importance of Egypt to US interest in West Asia. Its manpower, resources, geographical position on the map are alone enough to make or break any project in the region. 

Egypt, in the critical years between the 1960s and the 1970s, moved from being the first industrial power in the Arab world, enjoying self-sufficiency and economic independence, to a country whose entire decision-making mechanism depends on receiving “humanitaqizqirian” aid from Washington.

How did this drastic jump, which put Egypt on a catheter mount, come to happen?

“Peace” negotiations.

Just one month after the 1973 October war – or, what’s known by the Israelis as the “Yom Kippur War,” there was a radical realignment process which brought Egypt and the US together. This was a process which initially started in 1971, the year when Anwar Sadat, Egypt’s president, invited the first US Secretary of State to visit Cairo since 1953. In the war of 1973, Egypt lost Sinai, and Sadat wanted to reclaim “self-respect”: a dream unattainable after Abdel Nasser’s death, unfound in what was coming for Egypt. 

When it came to reclaiming Palestinian land back to the Palestinians – and Sinai back to Egypt – to Sadat, the only way to negotiate with the Israelis was through the United States, in a political settlement, if you may. He thought that turning to Washington would help him solving problems unsolvable by military means, whether it was on the annexation of Sinai, or an economic crisis. 

The so-called political settlement came at the expense of the Egyptian economy, human rights and security for years to come.

The Egyptian economy enjoyed minimal imports (in 1961, with Abdel Nasser’s economic reforms, food imports to Egypt were only at 7%), redistribution of land and resources that isolated and diminished the power of traditional Egyptian landowners, the nationalization of the Suez Canal, protective policies against international inflation, and restrictions on foreign investment. Nasserism won its pioneer a substantial fan base and popularity after the 1952 Revolution.

However, his successor, a shameless lackey for the US, was determined to reverse all that revolution had done for the Egyptian people: Sadat, between 1971 and 1973, launched talks with Henry Kissinger. Sadat’s economic policies donned an ‘Open Door’ policy, which opened Egyptian markets to foreign investors and corporations without restrictions.

However, what he really got was a society lamb to the slaughter of foreign and private interest, dependent on food aid, and subject to US-Israeli policies.

Sadat wanted to be sure that Washington would come to Egypt’s rescue, so he required real, tangible evidence from the US that they will support Cairo. If such evidence was available, Sadat was willing to make Egypt undergo the necessary economic changes for US’ aid and the so-called ‘comprehensive peace plans.’ 

The evidence was provided: a basic tenant for Egypt to ride the American aid bandwagon was the normalization of relations with “Israel”, which consolidated in 1978. The free trade agreements, the astronomical numbers of foreign aid, and other agreements isolated Egypt from its neighbors, Arab and non-Arab. However, not only were both Sadat and the US eager to drive Egypt away from Soviet influence in the Cold War, but “Israel” also sought to plant itself on Arab soil, seeking Arab acceptance, which Sadat was so willing to do. 

The US seduced the Egyptian elite, by offering billions in aid, into signing on the Camp David Accords.

Let’s talk about the costs.

An Israeli official once called US aid “narcotic” – not too surprising considering that Washington is “Israel’s” godfather in West Asia, taking unconditional billions in aid and weapons to push common interests.

Between the years 1946 and 2011, the United States gave Egypt a total of $71.7 billion in bilateral foreign aid.

With Sadat’s economic liberalization, US’ conditions for aid were to integrate Egyptian and Israeli economies and boost foreign investments which would supposedly strengthen the economy. The public sector accounted for 75% of all Egypt’s outputs. However, Sadat’s laissez-faire policies only diminished them, placing them at the mercy of private companies and trade deals, such as the Qualified Industrial Zones.

The investments which Sadat was hoping for were not meant for productivity but were rather oriented towards banking and tourism. However, the banking sector, under what was called Infitah (Open Door policy), was not doing what it was supposed to do. With only 6 banks existing in 1974, Sadat allowed the influx of seventy-five banks – several of those were American, which abused the vulnerability of the situation in Egypt. The foreign banks, not to much surprise, laundered Egyptian money to the West rather than benefiting the people. 

With a deteriorating economy where the cost of production of basic goods such as rice, wheat, sugar, flour, oil, and gas was skyrocketing, many locals had left to oil-producing countries to make a living.

In Egypt, this meant one thing: bend to US interest or starve.

By 1981, Egypt was importing 60% of its food into the country: much of that was provided by Washington, in addition to Arab oil-producing countries. After normalization in 1978, Arab investors withdrew their investments; to Sadat’s convenience, the US was able to compromise.

Where has this led Egypt? Egypt today has a workforce participation rate of approximately 48%. Governmental spending exceeds the total revenue. Egypt is hideously indebted to the International Monetary Fund, its debt representing 92% of its Gross Domestic Product.  

Sadat attempted to convince the population that normalization with “Israel” would bring economic well-being and prosperity to the average Egyptian, though what it really did, with Washington’s shuttle diplomacy, is sell it to capitalists, and create a bread crisis in 1977, which was initiated by IMF and World Bank pressures to remove subsidies on bread.

Furthermore, along with the millions of dollars in US aid, a large project was initiated by the Nixon administration on March 1, 1975, to reconstruct the cities along the Suez Canal after three wars – the cost of which was to maintain peace with the Israeli neighbor. Disarmament was on the agenda, meaning that Egypt, on par with the accords, was prohibited from any military confrontation with “Israel”; however, even the Egyptians, given US-Israeli threats against them, knew that “Tel Aviv” would not be complying with the Sinai Disengagement Agreement.

As for economic growth, from the 1980s till recently, Egypt’s gross domestic product per capita has barely doubled, when emerging economies such as South Korea were able to multiply their GDP by ten times (the two countries’ economies, during the 1950s, had similar developmental conditions). Poverty rates in Egypt today hover around 30%, sustaining a high unemployment rate, last 10.4% in 2020.

As if turning to “Israel” once was not enough, wait till you see the “second Camp David Accords.” 

Despite the population’s adamant rejection of Sadat’s policies and the normalization, a greedy leader,a successor, looked for the preservation of the system at the expense of the nation’s interest. Another case taken into account is the US’ Qualified Industrial Zone (QIZ) economic proposal, which ultimately meant to expand economic cooperation between “Israel” and “Egypt.”

QIZ deal, signed in 2004 by Hosni Mubarak, was deemed by many as a “second Camp David,” and it was the most important economic deal between the two in 20 years, according to a US representative who attended the signing event.

Just a few months after that was sealed, Egypt and “Israel” signed another deal where Egypt would provide ‘Israel” with $2.5 billion worth of gas at a low price at a time when the country’s economy was running into the ground.

Those agreements came just a few days after Israel shot and killed 3 Egyptian soldiers at the border.

“One would have anticipated that with the ongoing carnage in Iraq, constant US threats against Iran and Syria, and Israel’s recent killing of three Egyptian border police, Egypt would have taken a tougher stance. But the exact opposite happened,” wrote K. Kamel, in Egypt and Israel: From Cold Peace to Warm Embrace. 

The trade agreement stipulated that the US would allow the exporting of Egyptian products free of duty and customs to the US, given that at least 11.7% of the total exports are manufactured in “Israel.”

Mubarak, though rejecting the agreement in 1994 through 2004, promoted the agreement on purely economic terms: Egypt’s textile-export agreement with the US would soon lose effect, China and India will replace Cairo in the market, and there is no choice other than to accept the QIZ agreement.

Officials in the Egyptian government told their people that the agreement will create a million jobs and that foreign direct investment will reach $5 billion in the next 5 years – both unrealistic and exaggerations.

Gamal Mubarak, Hosni’s son, defended the agreement, saying it serves the Palestinian cause.

However, facts on the ground proved otherwise. Many things were wrong with this deal, which was falsely marketed and heavily oriented towards “Israel.”

The first issue is that the deal breached World Trade Organization’s free trade conditions since the agreement gives “Israel” the power to enjoy a monopoly over Egyptian manufacturers.

Secondly, and even worse: to ensure the 11.7% quota, Israeli companies marginalized small and medium-sized businesses that supply larger textile factories with parts, as they forced them out of their jobs. The deal was heavily biased towards “Israel,” Egypt was not allowed to export its goods to the US duty-free without exporting Israeli goods, despite countries like China, India and Turkey engaging in it freely so. 

There was no real guarantee that the products will be exported to the US, prompting analysts to say that the agreement sort of resembles a Trojan horse, allowing Israel to flock into Arab markets, hence the “second Camp David.”

As some countries resist pressures to normalize relations with the psychopath ‘state’ (you can read Farah Haj Hassan’s article on Asian nations that said ‘No’ to normalization), others have not read much history on the first example of normalization in West Asia, and still deem normalization as an end to conflict, a yes to economic boom and a gateway to acceptance in both the region and the international community. 

To look West, after all their history in the West Asian region alone, should not deceive anyone anymore. Other than the fact that normalization is a human rights issue against fellow Arabs (not even just Palestinians! The US used Egyptian waters and airspace to bomb Iraq and Afghanistan in 2003), it’s suicide for any country looking to flourish with sovereignty. 

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