Trials and Tribulations of the Collective West

February 01, 2023

by Pepe Escobar, widely distributed on the Internet and posted with the author’s permission

Sit back, relax and enjoy a race to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. The only question is who will get there first: the EU, NATO, or both. 

One may be excused to imagine all sorts of amusement games unrolling at the HQ of the Russian General Staff as The Empire and NATO go literally bonkers. What crazy stunt will they come up with next – short of WWIII?

Here is a delightful put down of NATO’s dementia praecox. Everything so far has failed, from “crippling sanctions” to all sorts of wunderwaffen, while the whole Global South marvels at the exploits of Wagner PMC – now configured as the planet’s top urban fighting machine.

CIA mouthpiece Washington Post duly released how Washington, once again, had the Liver Sausage Chancellor Scholz for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The idea was floated by Secretary of State Tony Blinken: let’s announce we will deliver M1 Abrams to Ukraine in a hazy, unspecified future, thus providing cover for Scholz to release the Leopards now.

Don’t you just love German sovereignty in action?

Every military analyst with an IQ over room temperature knows all those Leopards will be duly incinerated – or better yet, captured, and dissected by Russian military specialists.

So what happens next is yet another vector of the – very successful so far – U.S.-unleashed German de-industrualization racket: the Americans will invade the German industrial military complex with their “much improved” Abrams – which may perhaps arrive in 2024, when only a rump Ukraine may still exist, or never arrive at all. So no need for the Abrams to prove themselves in actual combat – as in being captured and/or incinerated.

Rumors in Washington advance that the U.S. “strategy” in Ukraine – extensively detailed by endless think tank reports – had to be adapted. It’s not about “defeating Russia” anymore, but providing Kiev with the means to “scare” Russia. The Russian General Staff must be trembling in their boots.

Meanwhile, in real life, nearly every possible scenario gamed in Washington and Brussels finishes with NATO like a giant, armoured version of Wile E. Coyote plunging to the depths of the Grand Canyon. And that happens even if the much ballyhooded “Big Arrow” Russian offensive starts in a few days or weeks, or never starts at all.

Arguably the Russian General Staff has concluded a long time ago there’s no point in reducing Ukraine to rubble in a matter of hours – something they could easily accomplish. Thus the fabled mincing machine approach – offering no excuses for NATO to “escalate” (which they continue to do anyway, as Jens “War is Peace” Stoltenberg is so fond of parroting).

The trick is that NATO’s escalation overdrive, as it happens, is somewhat controlled by the Russian General Staff, which is always calculating which optimal maneuvers will consume NATO’s military hardware faster. Call it a Russian version of the popular axiom “frog in a boiling pot doesn’t realize it’s being cooked until it croaks.”

Attacking Russia-China-Iran

Absolute desperation is now graphically extrapolating into attacks on Iran. Both Russia and China have Iran as their key ally in West Asia for the whole, complex process of Eurasia integration; strategic partnerships interlink the trio.

So attacking the Ministry of Defense in Isfahan with drones – total fail – and bombing an IRGC convoy of humanitarian aid crossing from Iraq to Syria is a serious U.S.-Israel-coordinated provocation.

Essentially these are also attacks against Russia and China. Israel cannot lift its hand or foot without U.S. permission. Iranian intel may be able to establish how the Straussian neo-con and neoliberal-con cabal in charge of U.S. foreign policy authorized if not ordered these attacks, which of course are directly connected to NATO’s desperation in Ukraine.

When in doubt, just come back to Zbig “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski: “Potentially, the most dangerous scenario would be a grand coalition of China, Russia and perhaps, Iran, an ‘anti-hegemonic’ coalition united not by ideology but by contemporary grievances. It would be reminiscent in scale and scope of the challenge once posed by the Sino-Soviet bloc.”

And mirroring Ukraine/Russia there’s of course Taiwan/China.

As Credit Suisse strategist Zoltan Pozsar has extensively explained, if Taiwan manufactures chips for U.S. missiles Washington then sends to Taiwan for its “self-defense”, but Taiwan needs to wait because the missiles are needed in Ukraine instead, or chips can’t be shipped to the U.S. owing to a possible sea and air blockade imposed by China, the Americans will be operationally ill-equipped to support their two-front war against peer competitors Russia and China.

Bye bye Pax Americana. It’s the fear, actually paranoia, of a destroyed Taiwan – and the destruction in every scenario would be provoked by the Americans themselves – that has led the Straussian neo-con and neoliberal-con cabal to demand their chips be Made in USA.

On the energy front, since U.S. energy costs are low, Washington gambled that much of the deindustrialization of Germany would revert to American benefit. Yet since Iranian, Russian and Venezuelan oil prices are lower than the U.S., not much production may be shifting to the Hegemon: it will go to China.

To the bottom of the Grand Canyon!

The January 10 joint declaration between EU-NATO graphically shows how the EU is no more than the P.R. arm of NATO.

This NATO-EU joint mission consists in using all economic, political and military means to make sure the “jungle” always behaves according to the “rules-based international order” and accepts to be plundered ad infinitum by the “blooming garden”.

So in the end what’s left of “Europe”, when it’s NATO – actually Washington – that really rules?

“Europe”, according to relentless propaganda, means defending “our values” – as in peace, democracy and prosperity. The trick is that unelected elites forced the implicit identification of this imagined, practically sacred “Europe” with the European Union. And that’s how the EU has acquired a mythical identity.

Of course, in real life the EU – as in the real, politically organized “Europe” – has performed as a toxic instrument of division among European peoples.

Instead of peace, it has invested in all-out rabid war against Russia. The EU is arguably the most democratically irresponsible institution on the planet: spend a day in Brussels and you understand everything. And instead of prosperity, the EU has institutionalized austerity.

So sit back, relax and enjoy a race to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. The only question is who will get there first: the EU, NATO, or both.

Biden ‘sleepwalking into disaster’: Experts

January 21, 2023 

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

US President Joe Biden could go down in history for allowing his failed policies to trigger a world war, experts say.

US President Joe Biden, January 19, 2022 (Getty Images)

US President Joe Biden’s policies toward Russia, China, and Iran, among other countries, have the US on the verge of disaster as he begins the second half of his first term, experts told Sputnik.
 
Biden reached the midpoint of his presidency earlier today, a period in which the White House has claimed economic successes while critics have slammed him for record-high inflation, the border crisis, and a foreign policy that has escalated tensions with both Russia and China.
 
“I think he’s done better than some of us expected, but he’s still sleepwalking into disaster,” political commentator and US constitutional historian Dan Lazare told Sputnik
 
Like all US presidents, Biden was the victim of forces beyond his control, Lazare cautioned. He said that Biden entered the White House promising to be a big-spending FDR [Franklin Delano Roosevelt] and thus succeeded in pushing through his $1.9-trillion American Rescue Plan less than two months after taking office. However, it backfired due to mounting inflationary pressures, which it undoubtedly helped aggravate.
 
Lazare acknowledged that the “rapid and humiliating Taliban conquest of Afghanistan” in July 2021, during Biden’s first year in office, was a disaster that nearly everyone in Washington contributed to over the previous 40 years.
 
“Instead of fiddling while Rome burned, he flipped burgers while Kabul collapsed. The result was the worst foreign-policy setback since Vietnam from an imperial point of view,” he said. 
 
The Inflation Reduction Act, which was passed in November 2022, put new strains on the Atlantic Alliance, according to Lazare. “[The act] has left Europeans unnerved due to its outrageously protectionist industrial policies,” he added.

Dangers of Ukraine

The Biden administration announced on Thursday another $2.5 billion in military aid to Ukraine, bringing the total to around $27.5 billion since Biden took office. According to Lazare, the United States is on the verge of a world war.
 
He stressed that Biden looks pretty good “shepherding one military aid package after another through Congress,” warning that the longer the conflict goes on the more apparent it becomes that NATO’s “aggressively expansionist policies are leading to another 1914.”
 
Lazare predicted that Biden’s failure to pursue any serious means of resolving the conflict would exacerbate it, adding that “just as the Entente more or less maneuvered Austro-Hungary into going to war against crazy little Serbia, the Atlantic Alliance maneuvered Russia into going to war against Ukraine by engaging in actions that were increasingly provocative and confrontational,” he said. 
 
Biden risks going down in history alongside disastrous UK leader Herbert Henry Asquith, who led his country into a disastrous world war with Germany in 1914, according to Lazare.

Read next: Poll: Biden receives ‘failing grade’ in leadership and management

“I think history will, thus, end up looking at Biden the same way it looks at Asquith, the UK prime minister who thought he could get away with playing with fire in the Balkans. Once again, short-sighted imperial ambitions are plunging the world into catastrophe,” he said. 
 
Lazare believed that despite all this, the US media had covered Biden sympathetically so far in contrast to their unrelenting attacks on his predecessor. He added that Joe Biden may be a “B- president so far, but I’m sure his report card will be bristling with F’s before too long.”

Feckless mediocrity 

Retired Ambassador Chas Freeman, who served as the Democratic Clinton administration’s assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, noted that the Foreign Policy had assembled 20 analysts who had nothing but praise for Biden’s diplomatic performance.
 
Freeman told Sputnik that no oriental potentate employing praise singers could ask for more, but the Biden administration didn’t produce a ‘foreign policy for the middle class’, only one for what he described as feckless mediocrity.”
 
He added that Biden has also recklessly sparked conflict and crises with major superpowers
 
“Biden and his team have catalyzed and subsequently escalated a dangerous proxy war between the United States, Western Europe, and Russia in Ukraine [and] escalated tensions with China amidst rising concern about the possibility of a war over the status of Taiwan,” Freeman said. 
 
He also abandoned diplomatic efforts to limit Iran’s nuclear weapons development, which has brought Russia, China, and Iran together, according to Freeman.
 
Furthermore, Biden has increased protectionism and rejected the World Trade Organization’s “rules-based order,” causing friction with US allies in both Europe and Asia, he claims.
 
According to Freeman, Biden’s erratic policies had also resulted in a visible reduction in US influence in the Middle East, including a rift with Saudi Arabia and a failure to counter the replacement of apartheid in “Israel” with renewed ethnic cleansing.

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    US to allies: No more ‘free’ military support; terms, conditions apply

    January 19, 2023 

    Source: The National Interest

    By Al Mayadeen English 

    The National Interest report says that the war in Ukraine has turned the tables on the US foreign policy approach to its allies.

    Illustration of a US tank emerging from behind the American flag (Rob Dobi)

    Washington has a new message to its allies: Relying on American military leadership will have to come with terms and conditions, no more “free rides”, a report by The National Interest revealed on Thursday.

    The media outlet said that the earlier discussions have addressed the “free riding” problem in general, especially when it comes to US foreign policy.

    In short, free riding refers to American allies earning US military protection and privileges acquired through Washington’s global influence and hegemony, without providing anything – or barely anything –  in return.

    US international allies, during the cold war era and what came after, were at the center of criticism by Washington for “relying on the United States to spend its national treasure in terms of higher military expenditures to provide them with global security,” the report continued.

    “If anything, the message coming from Washington these days is that if the allies want to be able to continue to rely on U.S. military leadership, they are the ones who would have to accept the economic conditions set by the Americans,” the report said.

    The conditions, according to the media outlet, are “ending their energy deals with Russia, sanctioning it, and joining the United States in a long and costly economic-technological war with the Chinese.”

    US “subsidies” to its allies’ defense budgets have enabled them [allies] to spend less on their military industry and focus more of their revenue on their social and economic needs, “while fiscal tightening forces Americans to cut expenditures on education and health,” according to the news sites.

    According to the report, this begs the question:

    “Why should America continue bankrolling the defense budgets of countries like Japan, surplus economies whose companies compete with American businesses in the global arena?”

    The dominating position of the US in the Middle East, which has been sustained through large military and financial expenses, allowed Washington’s allies that are dependent on foreign energy imports to have freedom of access to the energy resources in the Gulf region, the report noted.

    In addition to all the abovementioned points, there is also the current world reality where the US is committed to deploying its nuclear arsenal to defend its NATO and Asian allies in the case that they [allies] come under threats from adversaries with nuclear arms.

    “Hence, the Americans are supposedly ready to see New York and San Francisco being nuked in order to save Berlin and Tokyo from annihilation,” said the outlet.

    Thus, pressing NATO states to raise their defense budgets and their military and economic contributions to the coalition has become a bipartisan ritual of sorts in Washington “until President Donald Trump’s behavior made it look faux pas,” the report said.

     Anti-globalization sentiments in the United States

    Americans are expressing unwillingness to “continue supporting the liberal economic order while the allies were breaking free-trade principles,” the media outlet stated.

    “But then that was the way the industrial miracles of Germany and Japan had happened, very much at the expense of American economic interests,” it continued.

    The cost implications on the United States from the wars it fought in the “Greater Middle East” started to challenge the de facto rhetoric in Washington regarding the US role on the global stage.

    According to the report, the US is “supposedly ready” to help out its allies who resort to it and protect their access to energy resources in the Gulf region, “while the allies pay very little in exchange, and even try to force the United States into costlier military interventions in the Middle East, as France did in the case of Libya.”

    War in Ukraine; turning point

    After the start of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine and amid growing “Chinese threats to Taiwan,” the report said that – “according to the conventional wisdom” – US allies may have finally realized that “free riding” is not an option anymore when it comes to dealing with the United States.

    “They need to start playing a more activist role in the protection of Western interests against the threat of powerful global disruptors” and now have to “contribute to the production of that international public good”.

    Allies will have to step up their roles, “since alone the United States will not continue to provide it cost-free,” the report said.

    ‘American Hegemony Lite’

    The media site pointed out Germany’s response to the Ukraine war and Japan’s reaction to growing tension with China as examples that allies are, indeed, making a shift in their role as US allies.

    “These developments seemed to have changed the balance of power in Europe and Asia, where America can supposedly now count on its allies to play their roles as its deputies while the United States remains primus inter pares (first among equals), call it American Hegemony Lite,” the site said.

    No more free pass for allies practicing protectionism

    Toward the beginning of the Cold War, “liberalizing American trade policies while dealing with nations that practiced protectionism made some sense,” the report noted, arguing that some allied economies, such as Germany and Japan, were still in a state of recovery from the destructive outcomes of WWII, thus had to protect their local industries from outside competitors.

    “But those who assumed that Trump’s economic nationalist policies would change under the more internationalist President Joe Biden are discovering now that that approach enjoys bipartisan support,” the report stressed.

    The news site continued that the decision made by Biden not to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which would have required the US to cut tariffs on some Asian imports, and his administration insisting on providing subsidies to electric-vehicle despite outrage from European allies in particular, who accused the US of practicing unfair protection to US-made products, are signs that Washington has turned upside-down the Cold-War-era deal with the allies.

    In its concluding statement, the report said that despite the conventional discussion that it is in the US interests to stop allies from establishing independent military powers, which could make the world a “more dangerous place,” the United States was one of the countries that launched a “series of wars in recent decades that have made the world more dangerous.”

    “It was based on the expectations that the United States needed to win the geostrategic commitment of its allies through concessions in the geo-economic area,” the report said.

    US allies developing nuclear programs could not have been a bad idea

    “In retrospect, if Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and Ukraine had nuclear weapons, the world would have probably been less dangerous today,” the news site claimed.

    Europe’s gas emergency: A continent hostage to seller prices

    January 16 2023

    Europe’s reliance on Russian gas imports has been upended by sanctions against Moscow. With few options for practical alternatives, the continent will remain energy-dependent and financially-vulnerable regardless of who it imports from.

    Photo Credit: The Cradle

    By Mohamad Hasan Sweidan

    The 2022 outbreak of war between Russia and Ukraine revealed the importance of energy security in bolstering Moscow’s geopolitical power in Europe. The continent, which imported about 46 percent of its gas needs from Russia in 2021, found itself in a vulnerable position as it sought alternative sources.https://thecradle.co/Article/Analysis/20403

    This presented an opportunity for the US to replace Russia and become the primary supplier of natural gas to Europe at significantly higher prices, resulting in large profits at the expense of its European allies. According France-based data and analytics firm, Kpler, in 2022 the EU imported 140 billion cubic meters (BCM) of liquefied natural gas (LNG), an increase of 55 BCM from the previous year.

    Around 57.4 BCM of this amount (41 percent) now comes from the US, an increase of 31.8 BCM, 29 BCM from Africa (20.7 percent) – mainly from Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria and Angola – 22.3 BCM from Russia (16 percent), 19.8 BCM from Qatar (14 percent), 4.1 BCM from Latin America (2.92 percent) – mainly from Trinidad and Tobago – and 3.37 BCM from Norway (2.4 percent).

    European gas imports 2022

    In 2022, France was the leading importer of LNG in Europe, accounting for 26.23 percent of total imports. Other significant importers included Spain (22.3 percent), the Netherlands (12.65 percent), Italy (11 percent), and Belgium (10.42 percent).

    These countries, along with Poland (4.7 percent), Greece (2.9 percent), and Lithuania (2.31 percent), imported over 90 percent of LNG exported to Europe at prices higher than Russian pipeline gas. It is worth noting that upon arrival, LNG is converted back to its gaseous state at receiving stations in Europe before being distributed to countries without such infrastructure, such as Germany.

    Graph: 2020-2022 European gas imports, by month 

    Switching dependencies

    Europe was able to reduce its reliance on Russian pipeline gas from 46 percent to 10 percent last year. This decrease, however, came at a high cost to the economy, as the price of gas rose to $70 per million British thermal units (Btu), up from $27 before the Ukraine war. By the end of the year, the price had fallen to $36, compared to $7.03 in the US.

    This price disparity has been hard to stomach. French President Emmanuel Macron went public with his annoyance: “American gas is 3-4 times cheaper on the domestic market than the price at which they offer it to Europeans,” criticizing what he called “American double standards.”

    High gas prices have made Europe an appealing destination for gas exporters from around the world, with increased interest from countries such as Egypt, Qatar, Turkey, UAE, Iran, Libya, Algeria, and those bordering the Mediterranean basin, as they either export gas, or possess gas but lack infrastructure.

    To replace the cheaper Russian pipeline gas, European countries are being forced to seek out the more expensive LNG. The EU and Britain are working to increase LNG import capacity by 5.3 billion cubic feet (BCF) per day by the end of 2023, and by 34 percent, or 6.8 BCF per day, by 2024.

    Can West Asia, North Africa meet Europe’s gas needs?

    The West Asia and North Africa region has the potential to partially meet Europe’s gas needs due to its geographic proximity and the presence of countries with large gas reserves and export infrastructure, such as Palestine/Israel, Algeria, and Egypt. However, there are several obstacles that must be considered.

    Map of natural gas pipelines to Europe

    For example, Egypt’s high production costs and increasing domestic consumption limit its export capacity. Additionally, Europe would need to be willing to pay a higher price than the Asian market for Egyptian gas.

    Israel, on the other hand, has seen an increase in gas exports to Europe in the first half of 2022 after the pipeline to Egypt via Jordan was restored in March, but it is unlikely to significantly increase exports in 2023 due to factors such as limited export capacity and high domestic consumption. Experts predict that Israel may export around 10 BCM of gas to Europe this year, similar to the amount exported in 2022.

    Qatar is the only Persian Gulf emirate that has increased its gas exports to Europe for 2022. This is largely because Persian Gulf countries prefer to sell their gas to Asian markets, where they can garner higher profits due to lower shipping costs and longer-term contracts.

    Last year, Qatar took advantage of the significant increase in gas prices to sell part of its shipments on the European spot market. According to the Qatari Minister of Energy, between 10 percent and 15 percent of Qatar’s production can be diverted to this market.

    However, it may be difficult for Europe to attract Qatari gas away from the Asian market, especially as China is expected to recover its demand for gas in 2023. In a policy home-goal, western sanctions on Iran, which has the second-largest natural gas reserves in the world, impede the investment needed to increase Iranian production.

    No real alternatives

    Iran’s lack of infrastructure connecting it to Europe and high domestic consumption also affect its export capacity. According to a report by BP, Iran produced 257 BCM of gas in 2021, of which 241.1 BCM were consumed domestically.

    With regards to Algeria, the main obstacle in increasing its gas exports to Europe is political tension with Morocco and Spain that led to the suspension of the Moroccan-European gas pipeline project, which can export 10.3 billion cubic meters of Algerian gas.

    In the case of the UAE, despite having the seventh-largest proven natural gas reserves in the world, its production is not sufficient to meet the demands of the local market and it imports a third of its gas consumption from Qatar through an undersea pipeline. European countries are currently in talks with Abu Dhabi to accelerate work on gas projects and increase production.

    As for Saudi Arabia, it consumes all of its gas production domestically and does not export any, with a total production of 117.3 BCM in 2021. There are also expectations for a significant increase in the demand for oil and coal in 2023. The World Bank reports that this is due to an increase in European countries’ reliance on these fossil fuels instead of natural gas. This increase in demand will keep oil prices high, allowing Saudi Arabia and other OPEC+ members to make large profits.

    The dilemma of growing demand

    The Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that global demand for natural gas will increase to 394 BCM this year, driven in part by Europe’s need to diversify its sources of gas away from Russia. And West Asia, with its significant reserves, remains a key region for Europe to tap into for this purpose.

    The challenge remains in finding cost-effective ways to transport the gas from the region to Europe, which will necessitate building a pipeline connecting the Mediterranean Basin to the Old Continent.

    Failure to do so will result in Europe continuing to pay a high premium for its energy security without achieving true independence. The alternative for Europe is to rely on LNG from the US. This gives Europe almost complete independence from Russian gas, but keeps it weak, obedient, and dependent on American energy supplies.

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

    Meta overturns decision to remove ‘Death to Khamenei’ posts

    The Metaverse company explained that the phrase is not a literal threat to the Iranian supreme leader

    January 09 2023

    (Photo Credit: Reuters)

    ByNews Desk

    On 9 January, the US-based Meta company overturned its decision to remove posts calling for the demise of Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, specifically posts containing the phrase “death to Khamenei.”

    The Metaverse company explained that the phrase is not a literal threat to the Iranian supreme leader. Anti-government social media posts commonly use the term ‘marg bar Khamenei’ which translates to “down with” the supreme leader in Farsi to English, with decision-makers in Meta saying it is “It is a rhetorical, political slogan, not a credible threat.”

    These captions are in reference to the alleged murder of Kurdish-Iranian national Mahsa Amini by Iran’s morality police, which resulted in nationwide protests against the Iranian government and brought instability to the nation.

    Allowing such chants to be posted directly violates Meta’s policy of preventing users from inciting violence. However, political experts suggest that this double standard proves Meta’s ambiguous and inconsistent post-regulations.

    Meta’s board said: “in the Iranian context … Meta must do more to respect freedom of expression and permit the use of rhetorical threats. The Iranian government systematically represses freedom of expression, and digital spaces have become a key forum for dissent. In such situations, it is vital that Meta supports users’ voices.”

    US-based social media platforms are known for censoring posts that spread misinformation or incite violence, yet commonly allow posts that dehumanize nations that fall within West Asia’s resistance axis, including countries such as Palestine, Yemen, Russia, and Iran.

    Last week, ‘Zahak,’ an updated game available on Google Play for free, allows users to play as Iranian protesters whose main mission is to fight high-ranking officials in the Islamic Republic, with the final goal being the assassination of Khamenei and to overthrow the government in Tehran.

    This is a step up from the latest Call of Duty (CoD) game, which included a stage in which the player must carry out the assassination of an Iranian general bearing a striking resemblance to Soleimani, the fallen Quds Force commander. Despite the provocative nature of that particular CoD level, the name of the Iranian general depicted was – at the very least – rebranded from Soleimani to ‘Ghorbrani.’

    Iran, Syria, Yemen: Twitter’s collaboration with the US military in information warfare

    The damning exposure of collusion between the Pentagon and Twitter raises further suspicions about Washington’s ongoing online operations in West Asia.

    December 27 2022

    Photo Credit: The Cradle

    By Kit Klarenberg

    The Cradle has previously deconstructed the Pentagon’s online bot and troll operations targeting Iran. These wide-ranging efforts, over many years, sought to destabilize the Iranian government by disseminating and inciting negative sentiment against it, on a variety of social media platforms.

    Their exposure led to the White House demanding an internal audit of all Department of Defense (DoD) “psychological operations online.” Ostensibly, this was triggered by high-level concerns that Washington’s “moral high ground” was potentially compromised by the “manipulation of audiences overseas.”

    The audit was revealed in a Washington Post article, the details of which pointed to a very different rationale. One passage noted that representatives of Facebook and Twitter directly informed the Pentagon, repeatedly, over several years, that its psychological warfare efforts on their platforms had been had been detected and identified as such.

    Weaponizing social media

    Frustratingly, the focus wasn’t even that these operations were being conducted in the first place, but that the Pentagon got busted doing so.

    For example, Facebook’s Director of Global Threat Disruption, David Agranovich, who spent six years at the Pentagon before serving as the US National Security Council’s Director for Intelligence, reportedly reached out to the DoD in the summer of 2020, warning his former colleagues that “if Facebook could sniff them out, so could US adversaries.”

    “His point was, ‘Guys, you got caught. That’s a problem,’” an individual “familiar with the conversation” told the Washington Post.

    The obvious takeout from this excerpt – unnoticed by any mainstream journalist at the time – was that Facebook and Twitter staffers actively welcome their platforms being weaponized in information warfare campaigns, as long as it’s the US intelligence community doing it, and they don’t get caught in flagrante.

    Moreover, in the event they are compromised, those same social network luminaries readily provide intimate insight on how US spooks can improve their operational security, and better conceal their activities from foreign enemies. Unmentioned is that these “foes” include tens of millions of ordinary people who are the ultimate target of such malign initiatives, of which residents of West Asia are preponderant victims.

    ‘Whitelisting’

    Internal emails and documents from Twitter, published by journalist Lee Fang, have now confirmed that Twitter executives not only approved of the Pentagon’s network of troll and bot accounts, but also provided significant internal protection for them through “whitelisting.”

    This practice allowed these ‘superpower accounts’ to operate with impunity, despite breaking numerous platform rules and behaving egregiously. The “whitelist” status also effectively granted these accounts the algorithmic and amplificatory privileges of Twitter verification without a “blue check.”

    As The Cradle previously reported, these accounts over many years sought to influence perceptions and behavior across West Asia, in particular Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. In many cases, users had “deepfake” profile photos – mocked up pictures of realistic human faces generated by artificial intelligence.

    Target: West Asia

    In respect to Twitter-enabled activities against Tehran, multiple different personae were formed to attack the Iranian government from different ideological and political positions. These were not your standard ‘opposition’ accounts – the ops were more sophisticated. Some posed as ultra-conservative Shia Muslims critical of the administration’s “liberal” policies; others as progressive radicals condemning the extent of the Republic’s enforcement of Islamic code.

    Many users amplified Washington’s disinformation, disseminated by US government-funded Voice of America’s Farsi-language service, among a myriad of other US funded and directed propaganda platforms. All along, Twitter higher-ups were aware of these accounts, but did not shut them down and even protected them.

    The impact of the collaboration between Twitter and the Pentagon on the tweets that users around the world saw and did not see is unknown, but likely significant. Twitter staff were aware of what they were doing.

    For example, in July 2017, an official from the Pentagon’s central command for West Asia and North Africa (CENTCOM) emailed the social media network to request the “blue check” verification of one account and the “whitelisting” of 52 accounts that “we use to amplify certain messages.”

    The official was concerned that some of these accounts, “a few” of which “had built a real following,” were no longer “indexing on hashtags.” He moreover requested “priority service” for several accounts, including the since-deleted @YemenCurrent, which broadcast announcements about US drone strikes in Yemen. The account emphasized how “accurate” these attacks were; that they only killed dangerous terrorists, never civilians – a hallmark of US drone war propaganda.

    Of course, US drone strikes are anything but precise. In fact, declassified Pentagon documents indicate there was “an institutional acceptance of an inevitable collateral toll,” and that innocent people were killed indiscriminately.

    In 2014, it was calculated that, in attempting to slay 41 specific, named individuals, Washington had murdered 1,147 people, among them many children – a rate of 28 deaths for every person targeted.

    ‘Misleading, deceptive, and spammy’

    In June 2020, Twitter spokesperson Nick Pickles testified to the US House Intelligence Committee on the company’s determined efforts to end any and all “coordinated platform manipulation efforts” on the part of hostile enemy states, stating these efforts were his employer’s “top priority.”

    “Our goal is to remove bad faith actors and to advance public understanding of these critical topics. Twitter defines state-backed information operations as coordinated platform manipulation efforts that can be attributed with a high degree of confidence to state-affiliated actors,” he declared.

    “State-backed information operations are typically associated with misleading, deceptive, and spammy behavior. These behaviors differentiate coordinated manipulative behavior from legitimate speech on behalf of individuals and political parties.”

    The following month, however, Twitter executives were invited by the Pentagon to attend classified briefings in a sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF) to discuss the defense of the Pentagon’s “coordinated and manipulative” social media activities.

    Then-Twitter lawyer Stacia Cardille noted in an internal email the Pentagon may be seeking to retroactively classify its malign online activities “to obfuscate their activity in this space, and this may represent an overclassification to avoid embarrassment.”

    Jim Baker, then-deputy general counsel of Twitter and an FBI veteran, subsequently noted that the DoD had employed “poor tradecraft” in setting up numerous Twitter accounts, and was now covering its tracks in order to prevent anyone finding out multiple users “are linked to each other” or to the US government, one way or another.

    “DoD might want to give us a timetable for shutting them down in a more prolonged way that will not compromise any ongoing operations or reveal their connections to DoD,” he speculated.

    Free speech absolutism

    So it was the compromised accounts that were permitted to stay active, spreading disinformation and distorting the public mind all the while. Some even remain extant to this day.

    To say the least, Twitter executives were well-aware that their eager and enthusiastic support of Pentagon psyops would not be received well if publicized. Shortly before the September Washington Post report on the DoD’s audit of these efforts, Twitter lawyers and lobbyists were alerted by a company communications executive about the forthcoming exposé.

    After the Post story was published, Twitter staffers congratulated themselves and each other over how effectively the company concealed its role in covering up CENTCOM’s deeds, with one communications official thanking a welter of executives “for doing all that you could to manage this one,” noting with relief the story “didn’t seem to get too much traction.”

    Were it not for the series of #TwitterFiles disclosures since Elon Musk controversially took over the company, these dark, shameful secrets would likely have remained buried forever. The full extent of the company’s mephitic collusion with US intelligence agencies, and the comparable, simultaneous collaboration of every major social network, must now be told in full.

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

    US Influence Campaigns Are No Surprise, They Have Been Going on Covertly for Some Time Now

    December 7, 2022 

    By Fatima Haydar

    Beirut – It is not a surprise that the United States would wage a covert digital campaign in an attempt to influence people around the world, namely Asia and the Middle East. These campaigns advance narratives that promot the interests of the US and its allies.

    A recent joint report conducted by the social media analytics firm Graphika and Stanford Internet Observatory [SIO] noted that in July and August of this year, Twitter and Facebook took down dozens of accounts for breaking their policies.

    According to the report titled “Evaluating Five Years of Pro-Western Covert Influence Operations”, these accounts had violated policies related to “platform manipulation and spam” and for engaging in “coordinated inauthentic behavior”.

    The accounts are being taken down at a time when social media giants have been trying to crack down on disinformation campaigns.

    The main focus of these accounts, according to the report, was Iran, Afghanistan and the Middle East, specifically Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen.

    The report indicated that the covert influence campaign shared content from US state-funded media outlets such as the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, in addition to links to websites sponsored by the US military. 

    Like many influence operations, the campaign created fake personas with AI-generated profile photos, posed as front media outlets and attempted to start hashtag campaigns, the report said.

    While neither Twitter or Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, has attributed the information to any entity or organization, according to the report, they would only say that the assumed countries were the US and UK. 

    This is not the first time the US government has been accused of running propaganda campaigns with extensive research and reporting on how the US military is looking to shape the cyber sphere. 

    The Twitter dataset provided to Graphika and SIO covered 299,566 tweets by 146 accounts between March 2012 and February 2022. Based on the report, these accounts divide into two behaviorally distinct activity sets.

    The first was linked to an overt US government messaging campaign called the Trans-Regional Web Initiative. The second comprises a series of covert campaigns of unclear origin.

    These covert campaigns were also represented in the Meta dataset of 39 Facebook profiles, 16 pages, two groups, and 26 Instagram accounts active from 2017 to July 2022.

    However, Graphika and Stanford Internet Observatory noted that the covert campaigns didn’t always garner much engagement or traction online.

    The vast majority of posts and tweets reviewed received no more than a handful of likes or retweets, and only 19% of the covert assets we identified had more than 1,000 followers, according to the joint report. The average tweet received 0.49 likes and 0.02 retweets.

    The investigation identified clear signs of coordination and inauthentic behavior. The accounts chiefly promoted narratives seeking to undermine Iran’s influence in the region but also took aim at Russia and Yemen’s Ansarullah revolutionaries.

    These accounts attempted to sow discord between Iraq and Iran. For example, accounts on Twitter posed as Iraqi activists in order to accuse Iran of threatening Iraq’s water security and flooding the country with crystal meth. While other accounts highlighted landmines allegedly planted by the Ansarullah killing civilians and promoted allegations that Russia’s military operation in Ukraine would lead to a global food crisis.

    In addition to spreading the narrative that Ansarullah leaders had blocked humanitarian aid deliveries, and are acting as proxies for Iran and to the Lebanese resistance group, Hezbollah, and closing bookstores, radio stations, and other cultural institutions in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa.

    The influence operation that targeted Iran exhibited a wider range of activity and narratives, including content promoting hardliner narratives that advocated for anti-reformist and hawkish policies in the Islamic Republic.

    These anti-government accounts criticized Iran’s domestic and international policies and highlighted how the government’s costly international interventions undermined its ability to care for its citizens. Posts claimed the government took food from Iranians to give Hezbollah, according to the report.

    Relatedly, human and civil rights were another common theme from the group, the report noted.

    These accounts also focused on women’s rights, highlighting domestic protests against hijab dress requirements, in addition to comparing Iranian women’s opportunities abroad with those in Iran.

    Moreover, the pro-western influence campaign linked government corruption in Iran to domestic hardships and criticized the Islamic Revolutionary Guard [IRG] in a bid “to inform about the destructive role of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in all the affairs and issues of Iran and the region,” said the report.

    And the list of narratives and scenarios of the US pro-western influence operation goes on.

    Will the US try to pull off a “Grenada” in Serbia?

    November 29, 2022

    Remember the 1983 US invasion of Grenada aka “Operation Urgent Fury”?

    It all began on October 23, 1983 when two truck bombs blew up the buildings housing the US and French  “Multinational Force in Lebanon”.  This attack resulted in  307 people killed including 241 U.S. and 58 French military personnel.  Following the bombings, US diplomats engaged in their usual frantic flag-waving and promises to never ever give in to terrorism.  The biggest problem for the US was that it had no way to retaliate in a way which would satisfy the flag-waver’s desire for blood.  Just blowing up random buildings in Lebanon made very little impact,  as for the promises to stay for as long as needed, it was obvious PR – it was clear to everybody that the time to pack and leave had come.

    Of course, this was very humiliating for the wannabe “indispensable nation” cum “city upon a Hill”,,,

    So Reagan, with his undeniable genius for PR and optics, ordered the invasion of Grenada just two days after the bombings in Beirut.

    A day that Washington will not forget, October 23, 1983: the bombing of the Marine Corps headquarters in Beirut
    The Invasion Documentary: Between the arrival of the multinational forces in Lebanon and the arrival of Amin Gemayel to the presidency After the invasion of Lebanon, the Americans sought to have Amin Gemayel reach the presidency

    Why Grenada?

    Well, for one thing it was barely defended (mostly by Cuban engineers and locals with small arms) and truly tiny (so tiny, in fact,  that the overwhelming majority of US Americans had no idea where it was or why there was suddenly an urgent need to invade.

    Second, it was very close to the USA, so everybody could get a slice of the cake, including the 1st and 2nd battalions of the US Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment, the 82nd Airborne and the Army’s rapid deployment force, U.S. Marines, Army Delta Force, Navy SEALs, and ancillary forces totaling 7,600 troops.  In terms of hardware, the US brought in 7,300 troops, 4 tanks, 1 LHA (USS Saipan LHA-2), 1 aircraft carrier, 3 destroyers, 2 frigates, 1 ammunition ship and even 27 F-14A Tomcats (source).

    All that against a few hundred construction workers armed only with small arms!

    I won’t go into all the details here, but let’s just say that this invasion was one of the worst and most poorly executed operation in the history of warfare: a truly HUGE US force was brought in to strike at a basically defenseless tiny island nation with the sole purpose of changing the optics of the disaster in Lebanon.  But, no to worry, the Pentagon handed our more medals than the number of participants, while some US special forces who wanted to press charges against helicopter pilots for cowardice (who abandoned the SOF on a runway because of small arms fire) were “counseled” against the idea.

    Bottom line is this: after the epic disaster in Beirut, the US wanted to quick and easy war to restore the “prestige” of the US armed forces, only to end up with yet another epic disaster, but at least in the case of Grenada, it was simply impossible to fail no matter how inept and incompetent the entire invasion was.

    Now let’s fast forward by 40 years and look at the current situation.

    First, there is the abject failure of the USA in Afghanistan, but also in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya and the KSA.  Then there is the humiliating Iranian bombing of CENTCOM bases which the “these colors don’t run” had to suffer without being able to do *anything* to save face.  And then they had to run 🙂

    And now there is a brewing disaster in the Ukraine which will make even the fall of Kabul look like a great success in comparison to comprehensive whopping of all NATO efforts by Russia (reminder: it took Russia less than a month to basically destroy the first iteration of the “Ukrainian” army and another six months to bring the NATO forces to a standstill).

    Now try to imagine that you are a hate-filled Neocon sitting in the White House and you are desperate to change the optics of the Brandon Administration.

    Would it not be nice to find another “Grenada” somewhere?

    Also, would it not feel good to wipe the smile off Putin’s face?

    Even better – how about making Putin really unpopular in Russia by making him look weak, indecisive or maybe even an agent of the West?

    I submit that the US is more or less done with the Middle East.  Venezuela is an option, but with no imaginable exit strategy, it would be the proverbial “easy in, no way out” thing the US did in Afghanistan and Iraq and could, potentially also bleed into Colombia.

    I remember how during the vicious bombing of the Serbian people by the US/NATO/EU Strobe Talbott made no secret of the fact that this “execution of Serbia” was a “message” sent to Russia: see what we can do to your ally? if you don’t behave, you will be next.

    After Kabul, threats against Russia look funny.  But what about Serbia?

    So here are the reasons why Serbia might come under attack (again):

    • Like Grenada, Serbia is completely surrounded by the Hegemony.
    • Serbs (and I am referring to the people, not their leaders) are probably the most pro-Russian and even pro-Putin people on the planet.
    • The Hegemony can constantly engage in provocations (say in Bosnia or Kosovo) to humiliate the Serbian people over and over again and provoke them to take action and then get a pretext to strike (For example, Ursula von der Lugen already made direct threats against Serbia).
    • While the Serbian military is much more capable that the tiny Grenadian security forces, compared to NATO it simply is no match, especially if, like the last time around, the Hegemony chooses to use missile and bomb strikes and does not put “boots on the ground”.
    • In Russia Serbs are often perceived as the only true friends of Russia.
    • Russia still does not have the means to protect Serbia though this might change in the future (more about that below) so now is the time to act.
    • Serbia is an Orthodox country and the Serbian nation is composed of those whom neither the Latins nor the Ottomans could force into converting to Latin Christianity or Islam.  Just for that they are hated by the western ruling elites (not to mention the Croats and Bosnian Muslims).
    • While this is rarely admitted in the West, in spire of the absolutely terrible correlation of forces the Serbs basically fought the US/NATO into a draw in Bosnia and they are still unwilling to give up on Kosovo (I am talking about the people here, not Serbian politicians.

    There are plenty more reasons which I could list, but I think that the image is clear.

    Translation: Vladimir, save Serbia!

    I would also note that I don’t see the US/NATO actually invading Serbia, that would be way too messy and would require even more US/NATO forces than are currently deployed in Europe.

    Besides, the 5th column in Serbia and Montenego is so powerful that there is absolutely no need to invade either one of these two supposed nation (they are one in reality, of course!).

    Instead, what I see as the biggest risk is that the US might decide to do with Serbia what the Zionist entity (aka “Israel”) is doing in Syria: I call it “psychotherapeutic strikes“.

    Psychotherapeutic strikes are not designed to achieve any tangible military success.   The Israelis have been bombing Syria for YEARS now and all of these strikes have had exactly *zero* military impact: if anything, the Syrian authorities, backed by Russia, Iran and Hezbollah remain firmly in control of the situation.  But it makes Jewish supremacist feel good about their putative racial superiority and it feeds their illusions about their military being as formidable as ever (heck, they even fly F-35s!  what could possibly go wrong?).

    And here is the key factor to consider: just as the Israelis are never told that their strikes against Syria are, at best, useless, so does the US propaganda machine hide the magnitude of the US defeat in Grenada from the people of the USA.   Hollywood even made sure to sell the heroic version of this shameful invasion 🙂

    In other words, if the US/NATO were to strike Serbia, they would not need to achieve any tangible military result.  Such a strike(s) would only serve PR purposes and as a way to distract the public from the disaster in the Ukraine.

    Then there is the argument that time is running out for the AngloZionist Empire: as soon as NATO is defeated in the Ukraine, you can expect a major political crisis for both NATO and the EU and the infamous “Camp Bondsteel” in Kosovo will be threatened (if interested, you can check out my article “Kosovo will be liberated” which I wrote in 2017).  By the time NATO runs out of military hardware and the entire EU plunged into a massive economic and political crisis, Russia will have the means to provide some very real support to Serbia (assuming that by then Serbia is run by real sovereignists).

    It is obvious that the NATO plans to invade Crimea next year will now have to be shelved and quickly forgotten.  Ditto for the planned “Operation Storm” but this time against the Donbass (don’t take my word for it, see here).  These ships have sailed.

    [Sidebar: the fact that the Ukie Nazis were so inspired by Croatian Nazis is, of course, not a coincidence.  Both nations are the creation of the Vatican and the follow the ideology common to Pavelic and Bandera and, for that matter, Pilsudski, Franco or Mussolini]

    So will we see another “Grenada” against the Serbian people?  If by that we mean a fullscale invasion, then no.  But Israeli-style “psychotherapeutic strikes” are a very real risk in Bosnia and Serbia (including, of course, Kosovo).

    I would argue that as long as NATO and the EU exist, the Serbian people will be living with a gun to their heads.  In fact, NO truly sovereign nation on our planet is safe as long as NATO and the AngloZionist Empire have not been de-fanged.  Once western Europe is denazified and demilitarized, along with whatever remains of Banderastan, then peace and security (which is *always* collective!) will return to Europe and Serbia.  And then both Bosnia and Kosovo will be liberated.

    Andrei

    The BBC’s abysmal coverage of Qatar’s World Cup

    The British state-owned broadcaster’s refusal to show Qatar’s Opening Ceremony reeks of hypocrisy

    Photo Credit: The Cradle

    By Omar Ahmed

    November 21 2022

    The FIFA World Cup held in Qatar is probably going to be the worst in the 92-year history of the tournament, but not for the reasons most are thinking.

    Aside from the fact that it is being held for the first time in winter due to the soaring summer temperatures of the Persian Gulf – and apart from the many off-field controversies surrounding the event – this year’s World Cup has kicked off with shockingly biased coverage by the BBC.

    The choice of Qatar to host the prestigious global football tournament was always going to be one steeped in controversy – a West Asian Muslim nation, for one, had never snagged a prize this big, and of such global significance.

    So from the onset, bribery scandals implicating the Qataris with the corrupt-prone FIFA organization ran rife. True or not, to date there exists no hard evidence linking Qatar and its successful bid to host the World Cup.

    The first World Cup in West Asia

    Then there was the cultural aspect: a conservative, Arab, Asian, Muslim-majority emirate was deemed unworthy of hosting the world’s most important football event. The biases run deep: consider, for instance, that this World Cup is only the second ever to be hosted in Asia – the world’s biggest continent – after Japan-South Korea co-hosted in 2002.

    Alcohol and football spectating often go hand in hand, and the Qataris have already made headlines by announcing two days before the tournament a ban on the sale of alcohol inside stadiums. This, despite a contractual agreement between FIFA and US beer giant Budweiser, which enjoyed exclusive official sponsor rights to sell its drinks at the World Cup.

    However, these issues can and have by and large been overlooked by most football fans and the media. The elephant in the room, has always been the issue of Qatari human rights and whether it is therefore “unfit” to host the world’s greatest sporting event, after the Olympics.

    These pressing issues, so championed by the liberal west, include democracy, women’s rights, LGBT rights, and the plight and treatment of migrant workers – most of these from South Asia. Yet while some of the charges are valid talking points, they are accompanied by an all too familiar feeling of western double standards.

    The BBC snubs the Opening Ceremony

    The BBC, which has built a global reputation for its renowned football coverage throughout the decades – including many memorable World Cups – has let itself down immensely over its refusal to air Qatar 2022’s Opening Ceremony.

    The opening show, after all, is every host nation’s chance to introduce itself to the rest of the world and put on a dazzling and meaningful display of its heritage, culture, and a means to project its soft power. Yet millions of television viewers in the UK were deprived of witnessing the spectacle Qatar had painstakingly organized. This was British petulance and pettiness on display for all the world to see.

    From the very outset, BBC presenter and former footballer Gary Lineker set a scathing tone with a disclaimer-like segment prior to the program. “It’s the most controversial World Cup in history and a ball hasn’t even been kicked,” he said before listing the aforementioned controversies.

    “Against that backdrop, there’s a tournament to be played – one that will be watched and enjoyed around the world. Stick to football, say FIFA. Well, we will – for a couple of minutes at least.”

    He wasn’t joking either. For a good 20 minutes, the show intended to display the opening ceremony of the first World Cup in West Asia, was instead an insufferable bore of virtue-signaling by the BBC and its panel of pundits.

    Online backlash against the BBC

    Naturally, this deviation from the main subject was picked up on social media by both popular, verified users, and average football fans, alike. The people tuned into the BBC, not only for the opening ceremony, but you guessed it – for football.

    British media personality Piers Morgan was among those who slammed the BBC over its “outrageously disrespectful” coverage for not broadcasting the opening ceremony and playing petty politics. “If they’re that appalled, they should bring home their vast army of (British) employees & spare us this absurd hypocrisy,” he added.

    These sentiments were echoed across Twitter, with many users describing the BBC’s coverage as a “disgrace.” Others pointed out the blatant hypocrisy of the pundits, who despite criticizing the Qataris and essentially boycotting the opening ceremony, still will be getting paid to film the month-long spectacle in the country.

    Selective moral outrage

    What has been remarkable, though, has been the incessant moral outrage that has emerged in the build-up to this competition – noticeably absent not only in all previous World Cups, but also interestingly enough, in the last tournament which was hosted in Russia – the villain of the hour, and Europe’s current security bogeyman.

    That 2018 World Cup opening ceremony was neither snubbed, nor were LGBT rights or any other human rights issues invoked. Remember that this was four years after the annexation of Crimea – a prelude to the current, on-going Russian military operation in Ukraine.

    At the time, the BBC’s coverage proceeded as normal, despite publicized accusations of “sports washing.” Likewise, the BBC had no qualms about broadcasting the opening ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China, in spite of (unsubstantiated) western claims of a Uyghur genocide.

    So why has Qatar been singled out? Some observers have pointed to Islamophobia, which truth be told, may be a far too simplistic assumption, although there has definitely been obvious cases of this in certain western media coverage. What is true is that Arabs and Muslims remain pretty much the only global demographic left against which racist and ethnic bashing are not only allowed, but roundly applauded.

    Linekar’s fellow pundits include female ex-footballer Alex Scott who tried to defend her presence in Qatar despite criticizing the country’s human rights record, “Because I love my job,” she argued – which she justified by having these “harder conversations.”

    “You think about four years ago, I was the first female pundit for the BBC at a World Cup. You think about how far we’ve moved in four years.” Interestingly enough, not only did she share her commentary in the last World Cup in Russia, but she was also seen pictured with President Vladimir Putin. Clearly “human rights” were of no concern to her back then.

    Former footballer Alan Shearer’s moral outrage against Qatar is also ironic, given that he is a vocal proponent of Saudi Arabia’s takeover of his beloved hometown club, Newcastle United. The Saudis, after all, practically wrote the textbook on repression and rights violations. Why hasn’t he opposed lucrative Saudi investment in the Magpies?

    Perhaps feeling compelled to address the Saudi acquisition while discussing the World Cup in Qatar, Shearer did say: “Do I love the impact that it has had on Newcastle? Absolutely. Newcastle are buzzing and playing some great football.”

    “Also, do I think that the Saudis and other countries should be held to account over human rights? Absolutely yes.”

    What about the next FIFA World Cup?

    The virtue signaling we are witnessing will likely continue to be throughout the rest of the World Cup. The BBC have already taken the unprecedented step of placing politics at the forefront of their sports coverage.

    In terms of consistency, then, it will be interesting to see where they go with the next FIFA World Cup to be jointly hosted by the US, Canada, and Mexico. Will the BBC snub the opening ceremony to protest rampant US police brutality, its dismal human rights record, its illegal wars, arms sales to despotic regimes, or its on-going theft of Syrian oil?

    How about Canada’s arms trade with Saudi Arabia which contributes directly to the devastating war in Yemen where tens of thousands have died and millions are on the verge of starvation? And let’s not forget the narco-state that has emerged in Mexico, where kidnapping and capital crimes now rule the streets, with little pushback from the government.

    Of course, the British government’s mouthpiece will have no objections with those host nations. No, the BBC will not spare even a second to point out those deadly crimes that affect tens of millions more people than whatever-Qatar-did-wrong.

    Ultimately, for football fans around the world who eagerly waited four long years for this tournament, it won’t be hard to watch this Qatari World Cup. It will only be hard to watch it on the BBC.

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

    The Middle East and US global power: Fossil Fuel- Lifeblood of the American Empire

    November 22, 2022

    Source

    by Phillyguy

    Summary

    Among all of the events shaping post-civil war US economic development, one of the most prominent was the establishment of Standard Oil by John D. Rockefeller in 1870. Working with other US industrialists, along with domestic and international financial and banking interests, including the Rothschild’s London banking cartel, Standard oil decedents have dominated the fossil fuel industry and shaped US economic and social development and foreign policy to the present day.

    Introduction

    The current world security architecture arose following WWII, which established the US as the dominant global power. Since that time, US global supremacy has rested on unrivaled military and economic power, control of world’s energy reserves (primarily in the Middle East), and maintaining the dollar as the world’s reserve currency [1]. There has been much current discussion about promoting ‘green’ policies, including sustainable development and increasing the use of renewable energy sources, clearly articulated during the UN Conference on Environment and Development (aka ‘Rio Conference’; ‘Earth Summit’), held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Jun 3-14, 1992) [2], and Greta Thunberg’s speech to the UN on Sept 23, 2019 [3], where she accused world leaders of failing younger generations by not taking more aggressive actions to stop climate change. Despite this push for Green policies, fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) are still the dominant source of energy, currently supply over 80% of the world’s energy [4]. In addition, the dollar (aka ‘petrodollar’) is the primary reserve currency held by foreign central banks [5] and main currency used for commercial energy transactions [6] [7].

    In 1863 John D. Rockefeller joined Maurice B. Clark and Samuel Andrews in an oil-refining business in Cleveland, Ohio, which was subsequently expanded and incorporated as Standard Oil of Ohio in 1870. Rockefeller was a shrewd and aggressive industrialist, acquiring additional refining capacity by “buying up and squeezing out of rivals by every device at hand—legal or illegal’ and as a result, Standard Oil would soon control over 90% of American oil refining capacity. Facing increasing resistance from the business community and the Ohio legislature, Rockefeller incorporated the Standard Oil Trust in New Jersey in 1982. This Trust consisted of seven subsidiaries- Standard Oil of Kentucky, Standard Oil of California, Standard Oil of New York, Standard Oil of New Jersey, Standard Oil of Indiana, The Standard Oil Co (Ohio) and The Ohio Oil Company. In Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey v. United States (1911), the US Supreme Court found the Standard Oil Trust guilty of engaging in anti-competitive practices, a violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act, breaking the company up into 34 separate entities, some of which the Rockefellers held major stakes [8] [9]. Ironically, decades after the Standard Oil Trust was ‘broken up’, these separate firms would subsequently merge into Chevron [10], ExxonMobil [11], British Petroleum (BP) [12] and Marathon [13], which are currently among the top 10 global energy companies [14]. The Rockefellers reach was vast- David Rockefeller, grandson of John D. Rockefeller, was Chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations (1970-1985) and Chairman and CEO of Chase Manhattan Bank (1969–1981) [15] [16].

    The geographic location of the US, circa 8000 km (5000 miles) from major war theaters in Europe and 9700 km (6000 miles) in Japan shielded the US from the massive devastation that took place in Europe and Asia during WWII. As a result, many large US corporations were able to profit handsomely by supplying the War Department with fuel, aircraft, ships, motor vehicles, armaments and ammunition to equip American soldiers and allied forces. Some of these firms were working both sides of the conflict, supplying Nazi Germany with financial backing and war material; some of these firms include Alcoa, Brown Brothers Harriman, Coca-Cola, Dupont, Kodak, Chase Bank, Dow Chemical, Ford, IBM, General Electric, General Motors, Woolworth, Random House and Standard Oil [17]. Prescott Bush, father of George HW Bush (41st President) and grandfather of George W. Bush’s (43st President), was a partner of A. Harriman & Co Investment bank and later served as Senator from Connecticut (1952-1963). Prescott Bush was directly involved with companies that profited from their commercial involvement with Nazi Germany [18] [19]. It should be pointed out the WWII is the most expensive war in American history, costing taxpayers more than $4 trillion, adjusted for inflation [20].

    To the victor go the spoils

    The US emerged from WWII as the world’s foremost military and economic power, the dollar was anointed the status of world reserve currency at the Bretton Woods Conference (1944) and established as the primary currency used for energy transactions following the meeting between US President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Saudi King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud, aboard the USS Quincy, in the Suez Canal on Valentine’s Day, 1945 [21].

    Post-WWII US economic development saw the continued rise of the American economy which translated into robust corporate profits and better living standards for many working people. In 1956, President Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act (aka National Interstate and Defense Highways Act of 1956) described as the ‘Greatest Public Works Project in History’, allocating $25 billion (circa $274 billion in inflation- adjusted dollars) from taxpayers to develop a 41,000-mile system of interstate highways that Eisenhower promised would eliminate unsafe roads, inefficient routes and all of the other things that got in the way of “speedy, safe transcontinental travel.” [22] [23]. The Highway act would enrich the ‘pro-highway coalition of energy companies, automobile manufactures, truckers, bus operators, tiremakers, insurance companies, auto clubs, etc. It directly led to increased use of private automobiles for transportation and the systematic dismantling of energy- efficient public transportation, creation of suburbs, shopping centers, ‘strip malls’, and proliferation of McDonald’s and other ‘fast-food’ outlets, which have led to the current health crisis in the US- increased obesity, type II diabetes and related health problems [24] [25]. In addition, some of these highways were literally built through urban neighborhoods and frequently minority communities [26] [27], such as the Cypress Freeway in Oakland, CA, I95 in Chester, PA and the Cross Bronx Expressway in NYC [28] [29].

    As a result, the functioning of the American economy and society has become very dependent on fossil fuel consumption (for more detail see [30]).

    1. Energy consumption & generation– the US has 4.25% of world’s population (339 million people) but consumes ~17% of the world’s energy and has the highest per capita energy consumption and is the largest total energy consumer. In 2021, approximately 60% of US electricity was generated from fossil fuels- coal, natural gas and oil [31].

    2. Suburban development– as described above, passage of the Highway act of 1956 [22], accelerated the development of low-density housing suburbs, which were only accessible by automobiles using fossil fuel.

    3. Transportation– The average American relies on energy-inefficient automobiles and jet airplanes for transportation. Most US cities lack a comprehensive, energy-efficient public transportation system. Indeed, the US does not have 1 mile of high-speed rail lines. By contrast, China has 40,000 km (24,855 mi), Spain has 3,100 km (1,926 mi) and Japan has 2,830 km (1758 mi) of high-speed rail.

    4. American agriculture is very energy-intensive, requiring 15 calories of energy to produce 1 calorie of food. The average food commodity transits 1500 miles from production to consumption point- e.g., California-grown produce, shipped to the US east coast, usually via diesel fueled trucks.

    5. Information technology– US society is heavily reliant on information flow. This system encompasses local computers, the internet and fiber optic cables serving as data pipelines, computer server farms and “cloud” storage facilities, all of which consume lots of electricity.

    6. Military– The Pentagon is the largest single consumer of fossil fuel and polluter in the world. To give this some perspective, on average, the US military consumes 12,600,000 gallons (48,000,000 L) of fuel per day. One F-16 fighter jet consumes over 20K gallons of Kerosene per hour (333 gal/min) [32].

    American capitalism is dependent on fossil fuel consumption to function and serves as the lubricant for American power projection around the world. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have approximately 57% and 41% of proven oil and natural gas reserves, respectively (see Table 1 and [33]). Thus, it is not surprising that the US ruling elite have a major interest in this region and the energy reserves therein [34]. US attempts to control oil in the MENA region has been carried out in several ways. This has involved setting up client regimes in countries with vast energy deposits, such as the Gulf monarchies in the Persian Gulf (Figure 1), attacking and/or invading countries who attempt to follow an independent energy policy, such as Iraq and Libya or issuing frequent verbal threats, seizing assets and imposing economic sanctions on countries that the US has been unable to achieve regime change or are capable of defending themselves, such as the Islamic Republic of Iran [35] and Venezuela.

    As part of this effort, the US has set up military bases in multiple ME countries including Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), Turkey (Türkiye), UAE and Syria (See Figure 1 and Table 2) [36]. Due to its geographic location, Israel is crucial to US foreign policy goals. The ‘state’ of Israel/Zionist project was the creation of British imperialism (Balfour Declaration, 1918) [37], was driven, at least in part, by the desire of the British ruling elite to establish a reliable (read non-Muslim) proxy force that would assist the UK in controlling the region and its abundant hydrocarbon reserves [38]. The US emerged from WWII as the world’s leading military and economic power and assumed the role of Israel’s benefactor, providing $152 billion since 1949; $3.8 billion in 2020 [39] [40]. While Israel does not host a formal US base, she is a de facto appendage of the Pentagon, is fully integrated into NATO and serves as a reliable and well-armed US proxy in the region [41] [42], ranking 18th in global military power [43]. Israel conducts regular attacks on Syria [44] and estimated to have a stockpile of circa 90 nuclear weapons (likely a low estimate).

    This effort has become all the more urgent as: the Russia-China-Iran axis has attained economic and military parity with the West, Iran is now a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) [45], has applied for membership to the BRICS [46] and recently announced that it has developed a hypersonic missile, that is ‘capable of penetrating all defense systems’ [47]. One would infer that Iran received technical help developing this weapon system. As Iran’s ties with Russia and China continue solidifying, they are becoming increasingly ambivalent about rejoining the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA; aka Iran nuclear deal) [46], which was negotiated during the Obama Administration [48]. Trump unilaterally exited the JCPOA in 2018, stating ‘We cannot prevent an Iranian bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement’ [49].

    We hear a lot about ‘Green’ energy, the ‘Green new deal’, reducing our ‘carbon footprint’ and ‘sustainable development’, policies which are being promoted by a wide range of extremely committed environmental and conservation groups such as the Sierra Club, National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Clean Air Council in the US and many international organizations and prominent politicians. ‘Green’ polices have been promoted by US Vice President Kamala Harris, encouraging Americans to purchase [expensive] electric cars and endorsed by the paper of record (NYT) and other corporate media outlets. Any policy that reduces the production of ‘greenhouse’ gasses, such as CO2, is certainly a noble and worthwhile objective, that should be supported. Unfortunately, most of these groups, at least in the US, where I live, are missing the proverbial ‘elephant in the room’. This includes:

    1. The entire structure of American society has been built around fossil fuel consumption. This includes the use of automobiles and jet airplanes for transportation. The profits of very powerful corporate interests, including energy corporations, automobile manufactures and their suppliers, banks and insurance companies and law firms to name a few, are highly dependent on fossil fuel consumption and ‘greenhouse’ gas production. They are not about to give this up without a big fight, including going to war.

    2. The military is a key pillar of a [declining] American empire, with the Pentagon serving as the ‘enforcer’ of US global power, but is also the largest of consumer of fossil fuels and largest polluter in the world [32]. The Pentagon is supported by all factions of the ruling elite, readily apparent from the near-unanimous bipartisan support for every military appropriation in Congress (appropriation for 2023 is $773 billion). Not surprisingly, most environmental groups, which are dependent on funding from corporate-backed foundations, such as the Ford Foundation, Home Depot Foundation, etc. [50] are not going to ‘bite the hand’ that feeds them. Likewise, US corporate media is controlled by 6 large corporations whose class interests reflect those of the petrochemical companies and other large corporations [51] [52] [53]. Any reporter who steps out of line- i.e., criticizes the functioning of the US empire, including fossil fuel consumption, is immediately reprimanded and/or fired. 1) Reporter Emily Wilder was fired from AP because she had posted pro-Palestinian material on social media [54]. 2) In 1996, investigative reporter Gary Webb published a series of articles entitled ‘Dark Alliance’ in the San Jose Mercury News, linking the crack cocaine trade in Los Angeles with the Nicaraguan Contra rebels and the CIA. Not surprisingly, Webb’s story was met with outrage by MSM outlets such as the LA Times and Washington Post. Webb committed suicide in 2004 [55].

    Concluding remarks

    The survival of the American Empire is highly dependent on fossil fuel consumption and control of global energy reserves. This dependency has created irresolvable problems and led to a chaotic and at times, contradictory foreign policy. While there has been a lot of ‘whining’ about energy prices in the US and EU, the oil industry is reaping record profits. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter levied a “windfall” profits tax on the American oil industry in response to increasing gas prices and corporate profits [56]. While these taxes have had mixed results, no doubt a result of aggressive industry lobbying, there has been little discussion of taxing high corporate profits at the present time. Indeed, petrochemical industry profits were barely addressed in the recent US ‘midterm’ elections, as many candidates receive campaign contributions from energy companies. Fossil fuels still dominate US foreign policy. This can be seen from the enduring presence of military bases throughout the ME and maintaining generous financial support for Israel and the ruling families of Gulf Monarchies [57]. At the same time, these ruling families have watched the US/UK/NATO ferment coups in Iran (1953) [58] [59] and steal resources, invade and/or destroy Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen; impose crippling economic sanctions and/or confiscate the assets of countries deemed a threat to US global power such as Iran, Venezuela and Russia and sabotage energy infrastructure (see below). Not surprisingly, KSA and other Gulf Monarchies have been reaching out to Russia and China; multiple reports indicate that KSA is ‘eager’ to join the BRICS Bloc [60]. No doubt, this was a motivation for President Biden’s trip to KSA in July of this year, meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) at Al-Salam Palace in the Red Sea port of Jeddah. On Nov 18, the State Department recommended that MBS be granted ‘legal immunity’ for the brutal assassination of Washington Post columnist, Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on Oct 2, 2018 [62] [63]. It should be noted that while campaigning for President, then candidate Joe Biden stated: he would “cancel the blank check” the Trump administration had given Saudi Arabia during its war in Yemen and during a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) that “America’s priorities in the Middle East should be set in Washington, not Riyadh” and advocated making Saudi Arabia an international “pariah” for butchering Jamal Khashoggi [61]. Rhetoric notwithstanding, Biden’s polices towards the MENA region are largely a continuation of those of Trump and the ruling elite they represent. Biden has not rejoined the JCPOA and has continued Trump’s bellicose position towards the Islamic Republic of Iran. The US continues supporting Israel, the US Embassy in Israel remains in Jerusalem (Al-Quds in Arabic), which is not Israeli land and thus, a blatant violation of International law [64], US troops remain in Iraq and Syria while the Pentagon continues assisting KSA in their genocidal war on Yemen [65]. Trump continues his financial dealings with KSA, recently signing a $1.6 billion deal with a Saudi real estate developer [66]. It will be interesting to see how the US reacts when KSA joins BRICS [67].

    On Sept 26, 2022, Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines, carrying natural gas from Russia to Germany, under the Baltic Sea were blown up [68] [69]. Shortly after the explosions, erstwhile British Prime Minister Liz Truss allegedly sent a message to US Sec of State Anthony Blinken stating ‘it’s done’ [70]. While the actual perpetrators of this attack have not been identified, it is likely that the US at a very minimum was aware of this action, as pointed out by Professor Jeffrey Sachs (Columbia University) during a Bloomberg interview [71]. The end result is that Germany and other countries in the EU will no longer have access to cheap and plentiful Russian energy, but will now be forced to purchase much more expensive liquified natural gas from the US or other countries. It should also be noted that nearly 8 decades following the conclusion of WWII, the Pentagon maintains circa 900 foreign military bases worldwide [72] [73]. Europe is still occupied by circa 100K troops [74], 35K in Germany alone [75]. Thus, Germany is not really a US ‘ally’ but rather a subordinate. This begs the question; will Germany and other countries in the EU continue serving as de facto US vassals or begin following a more independent foreign policy? One could argue their very survival as functional states depends on this.

    Notes

    1. US economic decline and global instability. The Saker Blog Jan 19, 2021; https://thesaker.is/us-economic-decline-and-global-instability/

    2. UN Conference on Environment and Development (aka ‘Rio Conference’, ‘Earth Summit’), held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Jun 3-14, 1992); https://www.un.org/en/conferences/environment/rio1992

    3. Read climate activist Greta Thunberg’s speech to the UN By Gretchen Frazee PBS News Hour Sep 23, 2019; https://www.pbs.org/newshour/world/read-climate-activist-greta-thunbergs-speech-to-the-un

    4. World Energy Balances: Overview (2020); https://www.iea.org/reports/world-energy-balances-overview/world

    5. The International Role of the U.S. Dollar by Carol Bertaut, Bastian von Beschwitz and Stephanie Curcuru US Fed Reserve Oct 6, 2021; https://www.federalreserve.gov/econres/notes/feds-notes/the-international-role-of-the-u-s-dollar-20211006.html

    6. What Is the Petrodollar? Petrodollar Explained in Less Than 5 Minutes By Kimberly Amadeo. the balance June 4, 2022; https://www.thebalancemoney.com/what-is-a-petrodollar-3306358

    7. US economic decline and global instability Part 3: Money printing, debt and increasing international isolation. The Saker Blog Oct 31, 2022; https://thesaker.is/us-economic-decline-and-global-instability-part-3-money-printing-debt-and-increasing-international-isolation/

    8. How Rockefeller Built His Trillion Dollar Oil Empire. By Jeremy Dyck Oct 8, 2019;

    9. John D. Rockefeller and the Oil Industry- John D. Rockefeller changed the oil industry forever with his company Standard Oil. but that was by no means the only interesting thing about him. By Burton W. Folsom Foundation for Economic Education Sat Oct 1, 1988; https://fee.org/articles/john-d-rockefeller-and-the-oil-industry/

    10. Chevron; https://www.chevron.com

    11. ExxonMobil; https://corporate.exxonmobil.com

    12. British Petroleum (BP); https://www.bp.com

    13. Marathon Oil; https://www.marathonoil.com

    14. Top 20 Oil and Gas Companies in the World in 2021; https://www.visualcapitalist.com/ranked-the-largest-oil-and-gas-companies-in-the-world

    15. David Rockefeller Sr., steward of family fortune and Chase Manhattan Bank, dies at 101 By Timothy R. Smith Washington Post Mar 20, 2017; https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/david-rockefeller-sr-steward-of-family-fortune-and-chase-manhattan-bank-dies-at-101/2017/03/20/f2385f8a-0d7c-11e7-ab07-07d9f521f6b5_story.html

    16. JPMorgan Chase & Co: Who We Are/History Of Our Firm; https://www.jpmorganchase.com/about/our-history

    17. Top 10 American Companies that Aided the Nazis. By Dustin Koski Feb 18, 2016; https://www.toptenz.net/top-10-american-companies-that-aided-the-nazis.php

    18. How Bush’s grandfather helped Hitler’s rise to power- Rumors of a link between the US first family and the Nazi war machine have circulated for decades. Now the Guardian can reveal how repercussions of events that culminated in action under the Trading with the Enemy Act are still being felt by today’s president By Ben Aris and Duncan Campbell The Guardian Sat Sep 25, 2004; https://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/sep/25/usa.secondworldwar

    19. The Holocaust and the Bush family fortune Bill Van Auken Dec 5, 2018; https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/12/05/intr-d05.html

    20. The Cost of U.S. Wars then and now. By Norwich University Online Oct 20th, 2020; https://online.norwich.edu/academic-programs/resources/cost-us-wars-then-and-now

    21. ORDER FROM CHAOS- 75 years after a historic meeting on the USS Quincy, US-Saudi relations are in need of a true re-think By Bruce Riedel Brookings Mon Feb 10, 2020; https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2020/02/10/75-years-after-a-historic-meeting-on-the-uss-quincy-us-saudi-relations-are-in-need-of-a-true-re-think/

    22. History of the Interstate Highway System; https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/interstate/history.cfm

    23. The Interstate Highway System History.Com Jum 7, 2019; https://www.history.com/topics/us-states/interstate-highway-system

    24. Tabish SA. Is Diabetes Becoming the Biggest Epidemic of the Twenty-first Century? Int J Health Sci (Qassim). 2007 Jul;1(2): V-VIII;

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3068646/

    25. Obesity? Diabetes? We’ve been set up By Alvin Powell Harvard Gazette Mar 7, 2012; https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2012/03/the-big-setup/

    26. A Brief History of How Racism Shaped Interstate Highways By Noel King NPR Apr 7, 2021; https://www.npr.org/2021/04/07/984784455/a-brief-history-of-how-racism-shaped-interstate-highways

    27. How Interstate Highways Gutted Communities—and Reinforced Segregation

    America’s interstate highway system cut through the heart of dozens of urban neighborhoods. By Farrell Evans History.com Oct 20, 2021; https://www.history.com/news/interstate-highway-system-infrastructure-construction-segregation

    28. Robert Moses’s Negative Impacts By SAFAA Feb 7, 2018 BY SAFAA; https://eportfolios.macaulay.cuny.edu/alonso2018/2018/02/07/robert-mosess-negative-impacts/

    29. The Cross Bronx Expressway and the Ruination of the Bronx By lbennett Nov 10, 2019; https://pages.vassar.edu/realarchaeology/2019/11/10/the-cross-bronx-expressway-and-the-ruination-of-the-bronx/

    30. War Essay- The consequences of nuclear war on US society The Saker Blog Jan 13, 2019; https://thesaker.is/war-essay-the-consequences-of-nuclear-war-on-us-society/

    31. Electricity in the United States US Energy Information Administration;

    https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/electricity/electricity-in-the-us.php

    32. Pentagon Fuel Use, Climate Change and the Costs of War By Neta Crawford Watson Institute June 12, 2019; https://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/files/cow/imce/papers/2019/Pentagon%20Fuel%20Use,%20Climate%20Change%20and%20the%20Costs%20of%20War%20Final.pdf

    33. How Much Oil in the Middle East? By Rasoul Sorkhabi, Ph.D. GoExPro Vol. 11, No. 1 – 2014; https://www.geoexpro.com/articles/2014/02/how-much-oil-in-the-middle-east; iea; https://www.iea.org/regions/middle-east

    34. Michael Hudson: A New Bipolar World. US finance capitalism vs. China’s mixed public/ private economy Nov 7, 2022; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_zY44YClCY

    35. Missiles of Iran- Iran possesses the largest and most diverse missile arsenal in the Middle East, with thousands of ballistic and cruise missiles, some capable of striking as far as Israel and southeast Europe. CSIS Aug 10, 2021; https://missilethreat.csis.org/country/iran/

    36. US military bases and facilities in the Middle East. American Security Project https://www.americansecurityproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Ref-0213-US-Military-Bases-and-Facilities-Middle-East.pdf

    37. Balfour Declaration History.Com Aug 21, 2018; https://www.history.com/topics/middle-east/balfour-declaration

    38. More than a century on: The Balfour Declaration explained. More than 100 years since Britain’s controversial pledge, here is everything you need to know about it. By Zena Al Tahhan Aljazeera Nov 2, 2018; https://www.aljazeera.com/features/2018/11/2/more-than-a-century-on-the-balfour-declaration-explained

    39. Israel-Gaza: How much money does Israel get from the US? BBC May 24, 2021; https://www.bbc.com/news/57170576

    40. U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel: Total Aid (1949 – Present) Jewish Virtual Library;

    https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/total-u-s-foreign-aid-to-israel-1949-present

    41. Towards a World War III Scenario? The Role of Israel in Triggering an Attack on Iran? Part II The Military Road Map By Prof Michel Chossudovsky Global Research, July 30, 2018; http://www.globalresearch.ca/towards-a-world-war-iii-scenario-the-role-of-israel-in-triggering-an-attack-on-iran-2/20584

    42. Understanding NATO- Ending War By Robert J. Burrowes Economy and Politics June 8, 2019; https://www.meer.com/en/54967-understanding-nato

    43. 2022 Military Strength Ranking; https://www.globalfirepower.com/countries-listing.php

    44. Israeli Attacks Continue to Kill Syrians, Iranians. Southfront Nov 16, 2022; https://southfront.org/israeli-attacks-continue-to-kill-syrians/

    45. Iran signs memorandum to join Shanghai Cooperation Organization. As leaders meet in Uzbekistan, the eight-member regional body is poised to add Iran to its ranks. Aljazeera Sept 15, 2022; https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/9/15/iran-signs-memorandum-join-shanghai-cooperation-organisation

    46. India, China, Iran: the Quad that really matters By Pepe Escobar Nov 15, 2022; https://thesaker.is/russia-india-china-iran-the-quad-that-really-matters/

    47. Iran claims it has developed a hypersonic missile CBS News Nov 10, 2022;

    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/iran-claims-it-has-developed-a-hypersonic-missile/

    48. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) at a Glance. Kelsey Davenport, Director of Nonproliferation Policy, Arms Control Association Mar, 2022;

    https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/JCPOA-at-a-glance

    49. Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, explained. The Iran nuclear deal isn’t dead — yet. By Zack Beauchamp Vox May 8, 2018;

    https://www.vox.com/world/2018/5/8/17328520/iran-nuclear-deal-trump-withdraw

    50. Society for Nonprofits; https://www.snpo.org/publications/fundingalert_bycategory.php?cs=ENVI

    51. The 6 Companies That Own (Almost) All Media [INFOGRAPHIC]; https://www.webfx.com/blog/internet/the-6-companies-that-own-almost-all-media-infographic/

    52. These 6 corporations control 90% of the media outlets in America- The illusion of choice and objectivity. By Nickie Louise Tech Startups Sept 18, 2020;

    https://techstartups.com/2020/09/18/6-corporations-control-90-media-america-illusion-choice-objectivity-2020/embed/#?secret=bL4ldPvDPR

    53. Index of US Mainstream Media Ownership- The Future of Media Project, Harvard University; https://projects.iq.harvard.edu/futureofmedia/index-us-mainstream-media-ownership

    54. The Real Problem with the AP’s Firing of Emily Wilder- When one young journalist was fired, the incident revealed a problem deeper than bad social media policies. By Janine Zacharia May 26, 2021; https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2021/05/26/emily-wilder-fired-ap-490892

    55. How the CIA Watched Over the Destruction of Gary Webb- Freshly-released CIA documents show how the largest U.S. newspapers helped the agency contain a groundbreaking exposé. By Ryan Devereaux The Intercept Sept 25, 2014; https://theintercept.com/2014/09/25/managing-nightmare-cia-media-destruction-gary-webb/

    56. Windfall profit taxes have benefits. But the devil is in the details. In times of crisis, the U.S. government has taxed excess profits — with mixed results Perspective by Ajay K. Mehrotra Washington Post Oct 24, 2022; https://www.washingtonpost.com/made-by-history/2022/10/24/windfall-profit-taxes/

    57. List of current monarchs of the Arabian Peninsula; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_current_monarchs_of_the_Arabian_Peninsula

    58. The Collapse Narrative: The United States, Mohammed Mossadegh, and the Coup Decision of 1953. By Gregory Brew Texas National Security Review. Vol 2, Issue 4 Nov 2019 | 38–59; https://tnsr.org/2019/11/the-collapse-narrative-the-united-states-mohammed-mossadegh-and-the-coup-decision-of-1953

    Stable URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.26153/tsw/6666

    59. The CIA in Iran- Key Events in the 1953 Coup; https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/library/world/mideast/041600iran-coup-timeline.html?scp=1&sq=mossadegh%252520coup&st=cse

    60. BRICS to expand soon, Saudi Arabia keen to join. BRICS represents more than 40 percent of the global population and nearly a quarter of the world’s GDP and if it is expanded it will help in bolstering the BRICS bloc’s global influence. By Huma Siddiqui Oct 27, 2022; https://www.financialexpress.com/defence/brics-to-expand-soon-saudi-arabia-keen-to-join/2737102/

    61. Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia is the right thing to do, even if it feels wrong

    The U.S. president has rightly come to the conclusion that a strategy of isolating the crown prince isn’t feasible. By Daniel R. DePetris NBC News July 15, 2022;

    https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/joe-biden-visits-saudi-arabia-bow-reality-rcna38419

    62. U.S. declares Saudi crown prince immune from Khashoggi killing lawsuit

    Biden administration cites executive powers, international law in shielding Mohammed bin Salman from legal responsibility. By Karen DeYoung and Missy Ryan Washington Post Nov 18, 2022; https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/11/18/saudi-crown-prince-immunity-khashoggi-murder/

    63. WaPo slams Biden’s move to shield MBS in Khashoggi killing suit. By Rebecca Falconer and Shawna Chen Nov 18, 2022; https://www.axios.com/2022/11/18/biden-admin-saudi-prince-immunity-khashoggi-killing-lawsuit

    64. The Status of Jerusalem United Nations 1997; https://www.un.org/unispal/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/The-Status-of-Jerusalem-Engish-199708.pdf

    65. Strategic Importance of the Indian Ocean, Yemen and Bab-el-Mandeb Strait Saker Blog Aug 5, 2020; https://thesaker.is/strategic-importance-of-the-indian-ocean-yemen-and-bab-el-mandeb-strait/

    66. Trump family signs $1.6bn branding deal with Saudi real estate developer. Wed, Nov 16, 2022; https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2022/11/16/692846/US-Donald-Trump-Saudi-Arabia-Dar-Al-Arkan-deal-Oman-MbS-Biden-

    67. The Roundtable #34 The Kherson Withdrawal with Gonzalo Lira, Brian Berletic and Andrei Martyanov Thurs, Nov 10, 2022; https://smoothiex12.blogspot.com/2022/11/roundtable.html

    68. Who Attacked Nord Stream 2? Maybe it was Russia, though that doesn’t make much sense. There are better candidates. By Doug Bandow Cato Institute Oct 14,

    2022; https://www.cato.org/commentary/who-attacked-nord-stream-2

    69. A journey to the site of the Nord Stream explosions- Prosecutors in Sweden say explosions on a gas pipeline between Russia and Europe were the result of sabotage. The explosions in the Baltic Sea targeted pipelines carrying natural gas from Russia to Europe. Russia denies any involvement. Before the announcement, Katya Adler travelled to the site, and was separately told by Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg that the west could go to war if Russia attacked infrastructure providing critical energy supplies. By Katya Adler BBC News Nov 18, 2022; https://www.bbc.com/news/world-63636181

    70. ‘It’s done’: Putin fumes after Liz Truss ‘message’ to Blinken over Nord Stream attack ‘revealed’ Hindustan Times Nov 4, 2022; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxzBqghRs5k

    71. Jeffrey Sachs: Rest of the World Thinks the U.S. Probably Sabotaged the Nord Stream Pipeline, But it Doesn’t Show up in our Media By Tim Hains Real Clear Politics Oct 3, 2022; https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2022/10/03/jeffrey_sachs_most_of_the_world_doesnt_view_the_ukraine_war_the_way_the_us_media_does.html

    72. A List of All 900 U.S. Foreign Military Bases. By Eric Zuesse Nov 18, 2022; https://theduran.com/a-list-of-all-900-u-s-foreign-military-bases/

    73. USA’s Military Empire: A Visual Database. World Beyond War;

    https://worldbeyondwar.org/no-bases/

    74. US likely to keep 100,000 troops in Europe for foreseeable future in face of Russian threat, US officials say By Ellie Kaufman and Barbara Starr, CNN Fri May 20, 2022; https://www.cnn.com/2022/05/20/politics/us-troops-in-europe/index.html

    75. Where 100,000 U.S. troops are stationed in Europe. By Zachary Basu Axios Mar 22, 2022; https://www.axios.com/2022/03/23/where-100000-us-troops-are-stationed-europe

    Figure 1. Map of the Middle East

    Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Maps_of_the_Middle_East#/media/File:%22Political_Middle_East%22_CIA_World_Factbook.jpg

    Table 1. Middle East Energy Reserves by Country

    (TJ, tera joules; 1 TJ= 163 barrels of oil)

    Source: iea; https://www.iea.org/regions/middle-east

    CountryOil (TJ)Natural Gas (TJ)
    Iran3,497,3477,738,423
    KSA5,624,3503,357,725
    Iraq1,626,278626,792
    UAE190,4002,302,508
    Qatar131,2591,599,572
    Kuwait705,461846,450
    Oman23,864957,632
    Bahrain81,132563,867
    Total12,477,03318,260,133

    Table 2. US Military Bases and Facilities in Middle East [36]

    *Numbers in parenthesis, estimated total number of US troops (thousands) deployed in each country; ** Estimated number of US troops (thousands)

    Country*BaseTroops**
    Bahrain (9K)US Naval Forces Central Command/ US 5th Fleet4.7
    Shaikh Isa Air Base
    Muharraq Air Base (Navy)
    Iraq (2.5K)Al Asad Air Base
    IsraelDimona Radar Facility
    Mashabim Air Base / Bisl’a Aerial Defense School
    JordanMuwaffaq Salti Air Base (Azraq)
    Kuwait (13.5)Ali Al Salem Air Base1.5
    Camp Arifjan9
    Camp Spearhead Army Base
    Camp Buehring
    Camp Patriot3
    Oman (<1K)RAFO Masirah
    Muscat International Airport
    RAFO Thumrait
    Al-Musannah Air Base
    Port of Duqm
    Port of Salalah
    Qatar (10K)Al Udeid Air Base- Special Operations Command Central10
    Camp As Sayliyah
    KSA (3K)Eskan Village
    Turkey (5K)Incirlik Air Base5
    Izmir Air Station
    UAE (2K)Al Dhafra Air Base2
    Port of Jebel Ali
    Fujairah Naval Base
    Syria (<0.2K)Al-Tanf garrison (ATG)

    From Ally to Enemy: Australia Hammers Final Nail in US ‘Deal of the Century’

    October 26, 2022

    Abraham Accord signing ceremony in Washington. (Photo: Wikimedia)

    By Ramzy Baroud

    US President Donald Trump’s so-called ‘Deal of the Century’ was meant to represent a finality of sorts, an event reminiscent of Francis Fukuyama’s premature declaration of the ‘End of History’ and the uncontested supremacy of western capitalism. In effect, it was a declaration that ‘we’ – the US, Israel and a few allies – have won, and ‘you’, isolated and marginalized Palestinians, lost.

    The same way Fukuyama failed to consider the unceasing evolution of history, the US and Israeli governments also failed to understand that the Middle East, in fact, the world, is not governed by Israeli expectations and American diktats.

    The above is a verifiable assertion. On October 17, the Australian government announced that it is revoking its 2018 recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Expectedly, the new decision, officially made by Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong, was strongly criticized by Israel, celebrated by Palestinians and welcomed by Arab countries who praised the responsible diplomacy of Canberra.

    Any serious analysis of the Australian move, however, must not be confined to Australia’s own political shifts but must be extended to include the dramatic changes underway in Palestine, the Middle East and, indeed, the world.

    For many years, but especially since the US invasion of Iraq as part of the politically-motivated ‘war on terror’, Washington perceived itself as the main, if not the only, power that is able to shape political outcomes in the Middle East. Yet, as its Iraq quagmire began destabilizing the entire region, with revolts, social upheavals and wars breaking out, Washington began losing its grip.

    It was then rightly understood that, while the US may succeed in waging wars, as it did in Iraq and Libya, it is unable to restore even a small degree of peace and stability. Though Trump seemed disinterested in engaging in major military conflicts, he converted that energy to facilitate the rise of Israel as a regional power, which is incorporated into the Middle East’s political and economic grids through a process of political ‘normalization’, which is wholly delinked from the struggle in Palestine or the freedom of the Palestinians.

    The Americans were so confident in their power to orchestrate such a major political transformation to the extent that Jared Kushner – Trump’s Middle East advisor and son-in-law – was revealed to have attempted to cancel the very status of Palestinian refugees in Jordan, an attempt that was met with a decisive Jordanian rejection.

    Kushner’s arrogance reached the point that, in January 2020, he declared that his father-in-law’s plan was such a “great deal” which, if rejected by Palestinians, “they’re going to screw up another opportunity, like they’ve screwed up every other opportunity that they’ve ever had in their existence.”

    All of this hubris was joined with many American concessions to Israel, whereby Washington virtually fulfilled all Israeli wishes. The relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem was merely the icing on the cake of a much larger political scheme that included the financial boycott of Palestinians, the cancellation of funds that benefited Palestinian refugees, the recognition of the illegally occupied Syrian Golan Heights as part of Israel and the support of Tel Aviv’s decision to annex much of the occupied West Bank.

    The then Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies had hoped that, as soon as Washington carried out such moves, many other countries would follow, and that, in no time, Palestinians would find themselves friendless, broke and irrelevant.

    This was hardly the case, and what started with a bang ended with a whimper. Though the Biden Administration still refuses to commit to any new ‘peace process’, it has largely avoided engaging in Trump’s provocative politics. Not just that, the Palestinians are anything but isolated, and Arab countries remain united, at least officially, in the centrality of Palestine to their collective political priorities.

    In April 2021, Washington restored funding to the Palestinians, including money allocated to the UN refugees’ agency, UNRWA. It did not do so for charitable reasons, of course, but because it wanted to ensure the allegiance of the Palestinian Authority, and to remain a relevant political party in the region. Even then, the PA President, Mahmoud Abbas, still declared, during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Kazakhstan on October 12, that “we (Palestinians) don’t trust America”.

    Moreover, the annexation scheme, at least officially, did not go through. The rejection of any Israeli steps that could change the legal status of the occupied Palestinian territories proved unpopular with most UN members, including most of Israel’s western allies.

    Australia remained the exception, but not for long. Unsurprisingly, Canberra’s reversal of its earlier decision regarding the status of Jerusalem earned it much criticism in Tel Aviv. Four years following its initial policy shift, Australia shifted yet once more, as it found it more beneficial to realign itself with the position of most world capitals than to that of Washington and Tel Aviv.

    Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’ has failed simply because neither Washington nor Tel Aviv had enough political cards to shape a whole new reality in the Middle East. Most parties involved – Trump, Netanyahu, Scott Morrison in Australia, and a few others – were simply playing a political game linked to their own interests at home. Similarly, the currently embattled British Prime Minister Liz Truss is now jumping on the bandwagon of relocating the British embassy to Jerusalem so that she may win the approval of pro-Israel politicians. The move further demonstrates her lack of political experience and, regardless of what Westminster decides to do next, it will unlikely greatly affect the political reality in Palestine and the Middle East.

    In the final analysis, it has become clear that the ‘Deal of the Century’ was not an irreversible historical event, but an opportunistic and thoughtless political process that lacked a deep understanding of history and the political balances that continue to control the Middle East.

    Another important lesson to be gleaned from all of this is that, as long as the Palestinian people continue to resist and fight for their freedom and as long as international solidarity continues to grow around them, the Palestinian cause will remain central to all Arabs and to all conscientious people around the world.

    – 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

    The Western Empire Attacks Russia: The World Strikes Back

    October 14, 2022

    Source

    by Jo Red

    In war, as in life more generally, the concept of tempo is essential.

    In his masterpiece Philosophy and Real Politics, British “Leninist” philosopher Raymond Geuss emphasizes “priorities, preferences, timing” (p. 30) as defining differences between “real politics” and the abstract, universalistic philosophy that flattens everything in the unfathomable ignorance of timeless present and depthless surface.

    Be reminded of that while you celebrate Putin’s birthday by cheering at the destruction of the Crimean bridge – and the loss of 3 innocent lives. Please be reminded of that. Either one or the other must hold: you plan and execute war – just like anything else – with a view to its intrinsic logic – dictating its own and specific tempo – or else, you go on the offensive and strike with an ear for audience and a view for choreographic photo ops. No, world history and Putin’s, or any other individual’s, private life events being synchronized is not a possibility. That’s called “delusion of reference” and might be a sign of serious mental illness.

    The point I’m trying to get across is that, contrary to Ukraine, Russia will not rush to respond to Ukraine’s symbolic provocations in the timing of any mediatic agenda. Big Serge has explained very convincingly that they are probably following the schedule dictated by military and political necessity, rather than the “events” that attract the attention of Western so-called “politicians”. By the way, has Zelensky been reminded of Putin’s b-day by Facebook?

    Be it as it may, it would be a mistake to think that, because of the advances of the Ukrainians on the ground, Russia’s offensive is not “proceeding”. While the UA’s junta continues to push Ukraine’s youth forward to be uselessly massacred in occupying some almost empty 2000 sq km under Russian target shooting, global developments unfold in the embarrassed “distraction” of Western media.

    Putin in his recent speech, Pope Francis since years ago, and well, just anybody else at this point has been able to tell you that this is a global war. The Nord Stream sabotage at the hands of the Anglo-Americans is only additional, unnecessary evidence that the confrontation with Russia reaches from Caucasus to the Danish Sea and beyond.

    Only a few days ago, an anti-French and pro-Russian uprising expelled the latest iteration of Parish’s endeared viceroys in the country. I won’t deny that seeing so many, newly liberated Africans waving the Russian flag moved me. It is just another step in the global anti-colonial, liberation struggle outlined by Putin in his programmatic speech.

    If you like counting square km, well Burkina Faso stretches over 274 200. The 74th country in the world by surface, with a population of 20 million: we could say, average size. I know, I know, anything happening South to the Mediterranean and involving Black people is irrelevant until they are slave-traded and “integrated” into the Metropolis: only then, and only if they vote right (i.e. left) Black Lives Matter. But whatever the Western empire’s propaganda is saying – or conceiling – the truth is that the colonies are absolutely vital for its hegemony. Africa is the youngest continent, and possibly the richest in resources: it is no coincidence if the French, British, and nowadays the American continue to feast on it. France will simply be unable to retain its standard of living without its neo-colonies. And that moment is coming. The Central African Republic, Mali, and now Burkina, have recently broken free. And it is everything but unlikely that other states in the area will follow. Nearby, Niger and Chad still suffer under the French yoke, but not passively. The Chadian dictator Idriss Déby died at the hands of the rebel in 2021, and his young son is now leading the country. The local junta has just postponed free elections by another two years, yet obviously, as these are NATO’s friends, you won’t read or hear about violations of democracy.

    On to another plexus in world power, the Middle East is undergoing a seismic-range transformation as the divides that defined the region cannot be taken for granted anymore. It is already some time since Turkey has timidly restarted some dialogue with Syria. Iran only drew nearer to Russia and China by entering the SCO. Besides being key in assembling a union of Caspian states, ripe with strategic and economic relevance, including tourism, Teheran is pushed in the arms of the continental powers by the suicidal policies of the West. Divide et impera, divide and rule, has been the leitmotiv of any empire since at least the times of the Romans. The US followed it rather carefully, for instance when they divided Russia from China under Nixon’s administration. Now they’re provoking China in Taiwan at the same time as they’re fighting a hybrid war with Russia in Ukraine, and with their imaginary third arm they believe to be able to overturn the Ayatollahs. Evidently, this hubris has since long divorced reason. The US could not deal the coup the grace in the ‘90s and early 2000s, when Russia and China were busy with their own problems if not actively helping the West. Imagining that it could succeed in after decades of internal decline, while fighting an emboldened decolonizing coalition, and at the same time pursuing contradictory attempts at détente to signal discontinuity with Trump is worse than preposterous. The SCO should reward #Iranianlivesmatter, #Iranrevolution, women cutting hairlocks worldwide and such as its most effective PR campaign.

    However relevant, this is not even the most significant and impressive turn that has been taken in recent days. Even Western press could not ignore the “detail” that OPEC+, at its summit in Vienna, has brutally smashed US hopes to avoid a reduction in oil outputs in order to keep the prices low. After having played with his declarations, journalists challenged the Saudi representative, who ended up refusing to answer questions from Reuters. They probably did not get the memo that the imperial arrogance of the US is not swallowed with the same servility all the world over anymore. But most interestingly, the Saudis have also explained that they have not been convinced by Russia about the oil prices but are simply protecting their country’s economic interests. Even more outrageous to American ears! They speak of interests that are not our own! How dare they!

    At this point, even Biden must be realizing that there were deeper reasons behind the Saudi prince’s decline of his phone call already in March, besides inflicting him and the American government the umpteenth humiliation on the world stage. Not only the US are finally given the brush-off in one of the most important regions of the world: the latter is actively being reshaped by the hatred of them. The Middle East connects three continents, including the two largest, not to mention oceans and seas, and by controlling its straits the Anglo-American have been able to choke the world economy for well over a century. Add the infamously rich resources of the region. It is no coincidence that the same Raymond Geuss considers the British loss of control of the Suez strait in 1956 as the end of their empire, more than the independence of India. Let’s not forget this was “facilitated” by Khrushchev’s threat at the UN to resort to missiles in case the colonial powers did not withdraw from Egypt.

    The region continued to be torn apart by the West’s skillful exploitation of its ideological, social, national, and especially religious diversity: first of all, the conflict between Shia and Sunni Muslims. These are behind the most dramatic – and almost completely ignored – humanitarian crisis of our time: the devastation of Yemen.

    It won’t be easy, but if the interests of such opposite countries as Saudi Arabia and Iran were to align, with a little help by American hostile resentment against the independence of both, and perhaps a friendly nudge by Russia (and China), this would be a massive blow to Western hegemony. Much more than the temporary occupation of I don’t know how many soccer fields in rural Ukraine.

    Last but not least, let’s not forget the Americas. One of the most outspoken admirers of Russia, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, is currently not represented at the Organization of the American States. Still, when the OAS voted on a resolution to condemn Russia’s referendums on October 7th, Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico voted against.

    Of course, in the perspective of the West’s rigged “democracy” the 24 states that voted in favor count more. But excepting the US and Canada for obvious reasons, the like of St. Kitts and Nevis are no match to the largest nations and economies of the continent. It’s the same logic why Biden’s bragging about a majority of states condemning Russia at the UN General Assembly is delusional: if three fourth of the countries actually voted in favor, among those abstaining there were India, China, Pakistan, Vietnam and other immense world players. Even more evident is the diplomatic defeat over the resolution to remove representatives of the Venezuelan opposition from the OAS: only the US, Canada, Guatemala and Paraguay voted against. The resolution didn’t pass, due to a significant number of abstainers and the requirement of a 2/3 majority, but is still a resounding slap in the US face in its very backyard.

    So, while the heralds of the Empire are cheerfully selling us memes and Tik-Tok videos about the terrorist bonfire on the Crimea bridge, we still retain many and big reasons to nod in re-reading Putin’s diagnosis about the emergence of a free, sovereign, multipolar world and the end of Western hegemony being inevitable.

    Jo Red is “lucky enough to be born in Italy: studied a lot, knows nothing”

    Russia courts Muslim countries as strategic Eurasian partners

    Thursday, 13 October 2022 7:10 PM  [ Last Update: Friday, 14 October 2022 9:14 AM ]

    Iranian President Ebrahim Raeisi (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) attend the CICA summit in Astana, Kazakhstan on October 13, 2022.

    By Pepe Escobar

    Everything that matters in the complex process of Eurasia integration was once again at play in Astana, as the – renamed – Kazakh capital hosted the 6th Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA).

    The roll call was a Eurasian thing of beauty – featuring the leaders of Russia and Belarus (EAEU), West Asia (Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Qatar, Palestine) and Central Asia (Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan).

    China and Vietnam (East and Southeast Asia) attended at the level of vice presidents.

    CICA is a multinational forum focused on cooperation toward peace, security, and stability across Asia.,Kazakh President Tokayev revealed that CICA has just adopted a declaration to turn the forum into an international organization.  

    CICA has already established a partnership with the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU). So in practice, it will soon be working together side-by-side with the SCO, the EAEU and certainly BRICS+.

    The Russia-Iran strategic partnership was prominently featured at CICA, especially after Iran being welcomed to the SCO as a full member.

    President Raeisi, addressing the forum, stressed the crucial notion of an emerging  “new Asia”, where “convergence and security” are “not compatible with the interests of hegemonic countries and any attempt to destabilize independent nations has goals and consequences beyond national geographies, and in fact, aims to target the stability and prosperity of regional countries.”

    For Tehran, being a partner in the integration of CICA, within a maze of pan-Asia institutions, is essential after all these decades of”maximum pressure” unleashed by the Hegemon.

    Moreover, it opens an opportunity, as Raeisi noted, for Iran to profit from “Asia’s economic infrastructure.”

    Russian President Vladimir Putin, predictably, was the star of the show in Astana. It’s essential to note that Putin is supported by “all”nations represented at CICA.

    High-level bilaterals with Putin included the Emir of Qatar: everyone that matters in West Asia wants to talk to “isolated” Russia.      

    Putin called for “compensation for the damage caused to the Afghans during the years of occupation” (we all know the Empire of Chaos, Lies and Plunder will refuse it), and emphasized the key role of the SCO to develop Afghanistan.

    He stated that Asia, “where new centers of power are growing stronger, plays a big role in the transition to a multipolar world order”.

    He warned, “there is a real threat of famine and large-scale shocks against the backdrop of volatility in energy and food prices in the world.”

    Hefurther called for the end of a financial system that benefits the “Golden billion” – who “live at the expense of others” (there’s nothing “golden” about this “billion”: at best such definition of wealth applies to 10 million.)

    And he stressed that Russia is doing everything to “form a system of equal and indivisible security”. Exactly what drives the hegemonic imperial elites completely berserk.

    “Offer you can’t refuse” bites the dust

    The imminent juxtaposition between CICA and the SCO and EAEU is yet another instance of how the pieces of the complex Eurasia jigsaw puzzle are coming together.

    Turkey and Saudi Arabia – in theory, staunch imperial military allies – are itching to join the SCO, which has recently welcomed Iran as a full member. 

    That spells out Ankara and Riyadh’s geopolitical choice of forcefully eschewing the imperial Russophobia cum Sinophobia offensive.  

    Erdogan, as an observer at the recent SCO summit in Samarkand, sent out exactly this message. The SCO is fast reaching the point where we may have, sitting at the same table, and taking important consensual decisions, not only the “RICs” (Russia, India, China) in BRICS (soon to be expanded to BRICS+) but arguably the top players inMuslim countries: Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Qatar.

    This evolving process, not without its serious challenges, testifies to the concerted Russia-China drive to incorporate the lands of Islam as essential strategic partners in forging the post-Western multipolar world. Call it a soft Islamization of multipolarity.  

    No wonder the Anglo-American axis is absolutely petrified.

    Now cut to a graphic illustration of all of the above – the way it’s being played in the energy markets: the already legendary Opec+ meeting in Vienna a week ago.

    A tectonic geopolitical shift was inbuilt in the – collective – decision to slash oil production by 2 million barrels a day.

    The Saudi Foreign Ministry issued a very diplomatic note with a stunning piece of information for those equipped to read between the lines.

    For all practical purposes, the combo behind the teleprompter reader in Washington had issued a trademark Mafia threat to stop “protection” to Riyadh if the decision on the oil cuts was taken before the US mid-term elections. 

    Only this time the “offer you can’t refuse” didn’t bite. OPEC+ made a collective decision, led by Russia, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. 

    Following Putin and MBS famously getting along, it was up to Putin to host UAE President Sheikh Zayed – or MBZ, MBS’s mentor – at the stunning Konstantinovsky Palace in St. Petersburg, which datesback to Peter the Great.

    That was a sort of informal celebration of how OPEC+ had provoked, with a single move, a superpower strategic debacle when it comes to the geopolitics of oil, which the Empire had controlled for a century. 

    Everyone remembers, after the bombing, invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003, how US neo-cons bragged, “we are the new OPEC”.

    Well, not anymore. And the move had to come from the Russians and US Persian Gulf “allies” when everyone expected that would happen the day a Chinese delegation lands in Riyadh and asks for payment of all the energy they need in yuan.

    OPEC+ called the American bluff and left the superpower high’n dry. So what are they going to do to “punish” Riyadh and Abu Dhabi? Call CENTCOM in Qatar and Bahrain to mobilize their aircraft carriers and unleash regime change?

    What’s certain is that the Straussian/neocon psychos in charge in Washington will double down on hybrid war.

    The art of “spreading instability”

    In St. Petersburg, as he addressed MBZ, Putin made it clear that it’s OPEC+ – led by Russia, Saudi Arabia and the UAE – that is now setting the pace to “stabilize global energy markets” so consumers and suppliers would “feel calm, stable and confident” and supply and demand “would be balanced”.

    On the gas front, at Russian Energy Week, Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller made it clear that Russia may still “save” Europe from an energy black hole.

    Nord Stream (NS) and Nord Stream 2 (NS2) may become operational: but all political roadblocks must be removed before any repairing work starts on the pipelines.

    And on West Asia, Miller said additions to Turk Stream have already been planned, much to the delight of Ankara, keen to become a key energy hub. 

    In a parallel track, it’s absolutely clear that the G7’s desperate gambit of imposing an oil price cap – which translates as the weaponization of sanctions extended to the global energy market – is a losing proposition.

    Slightly over a month before hosting the G20 in Bali, Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati could not make it clearer: “When the United States is imposing sanctions using economic instruments, that creates a precedent for everything”, spreading instability “not only for Indonesia but for all other countries.”

    Meanwhile, allMuslim-majority countries are paying very close attention to Russia. The Russia-Iran strategic partnership is now advancing in parallel to the Russia-Saudi-UAE entente as crucial vectors of multipolarity.

    In the near future, all these vectors are bound to unite in what ideally should be a supra-organization capable of managing the top story of the 21st century: Eurasia integration.    

    Pepe Escobar is a veteran journalist, author and independent geopolitical analyst focused on Eurasia.

    (The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV.)


    Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

    www.presstv.ir

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    Decoding the Pentagon’s online war against Iran

    October 01 2022

    From a click of a button in the US to violence on the streets of Tehran, the latest protests in Iran are being engineered and provoked from outside.
    Photo Credit: The Cradle

    Source

    By Kit Klarenburg

    The civil unrest in Iran in response to the recent death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while she was waiting at a Tehran police station, although rooted in legitimate grievances, also bears the hallmark of a western-sponsored covert war, covering multiple fronts.

    Mere days after the protests erupted on 16 September, the Washington Post revealed that the Pentagon had initiated a wide-ranging audit of all its online psyops efforts, after a number of bot and troll accounts operated by its Central Command (CENTCOM) division – which covers all US military actions in West Asia, North Africa and South and Central Asia – were exposed, and subsequently banned by major social networks and online spaces.

    The accounts were busted in a joint investigation carried out by social media research firm Graphika, and the Stanford Internet Observatory, which evaluated “five years of pro-Western covert influence operations.”

    Published in late August, it attracted minimal English-language press coverage at the time, but evidently was noticed, raising concerns at the highest levels of the US government, prompting the audit.

    While the Washington Post ludicrously suggested the government’s umbrage stemmed from CENTCOM’s egregious, manipulative activities which could compromise US “values” and its “moral high ground,” it is abundantly clear that the real problem was CENTCOM being exposed.

    #OpIran

    CENTCOM’s geographical purview includes Iran, and given the Islamic Republic’s longstanding status as a key US enemy state, it’s perhaps unsurprising that a significant proportion of the unit’s online disinformation and psychological warfare efforts were directed there.

    A key strategy employed by US military psyops specialists is the creation of multiple sham media outlets publishing content in Farsi. Numerous online channels were maintained for these platforms, spanning Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and even Telegram.

    In some cases too, fake journalists and pundits, with numerous “followers” on those platforms emerged, along with profile photos created via artificial intelligence.

    For example, Fahim News claimed to provide “accurate news and information” on events in Iran, prominently publishing posts declaring “the regime uses all of its efforts to censor and filter the internet,” and encouraging readers to stick to online sources as a result.

    Meanwhile, Dariche News claimed to be an “independent website unaffiliated with any group or organization,” committed to providing “uncensored and unbiased news” to Iranians within and without the country, in particular information on “the destructive role of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in all the affairs and issues of Iran and the region.”

    Their respective YouTube channels pumped out numerous short-form videos, presumably in the hope they would be mistaken for organic content, and go viral on other social networks. The researchers identified one instance in which media outlets elsewhere had embedded Dariche News content into articles.

    An army of bots and trolls

    Some of the fake news organizations published original material, but much of their output was recycled content from US government-funded propaganda outfits such as Radio Farda and Voice of America Farsi.

    They also repurposed and shared articles from the British-based Iran International, which appears to receive arm’s length funding from Saudi Arabia, as did several fake personas attached to these outlets.

    These personas frequently posted non-political content, including Iranian poetry and photos of Persian food, in order to increase their authenticity. They also engaged with real Iranians on Twitter, often joking with them about internet memes.

    Pentagon bots and trolls used different narrative techniques and approaches in an attempt to influence perceptions and engender engagement. A handful promoted “hardliner” views, criticizing the Iranian government for insufficiently hawkish foreign policy while being excessively reformist and liberal domestically.

    One such bogus user, a purported “political science expert,” accrued thousands of followers on Twitter and Telegram by posting content praising Shia Islam’s growing power in West Asia, while other “hardliner” accounts praised the late General Qassem Soleimani of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), slain in an illegal US drone strike in January 2020, as a martyr, and encouraged the wearing of hijabs.

    The researchers state the purpose of these efforts was unclear, although an obvious explanation is the Pentagon sought to foster anti-government discontent among conservative Iranians, while creating lists of local “extremists” to monitor online.

    Orchestrated opposition

    Overwhelmingly though, Pentagon-linked accounts were viciously critical of the Iranian government, and the IRGC. Numerous Pentagon bots and trolls sought to blame food and medicine shortages on the latter, which was likened to ISIS, and posting videos of Iranians protesting and looting supermarkets captioned in Pashto, English, and Urdu.

    More sober posts criticized Tehran for redistributing much-needed food to give to Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, while others highlighted embarrassing incidents, such as a reported power outage that caused the country’s chess team to lose an international online tournament.

    Furthermore, multiple fake users claimed to seek “justice for the victims of #Flight752”, referring to the Ukraine International Airlines flight accidentally shot down by the IRGC in January 2020.

    Using hashtags such as #PS752 and #PS752justice hundreds of times, they blamed Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei personally for the incident.

    Following the outbreak of war in Ukraine in February, these accounts used Persian versions of widely-trending hashtags #No_To_Putin and #No_To_War – themselves overwhelmingly disseminated on Twitter by pro-Ukraine bot and troll accounts, according to separate research.

    The users condemned Khamenei’s verbal support of Putin and accused Iran of supplying drones to Moscow, which it was claimed were used to kill civilians.

    They also pushed the narrative that Iran’s collusion with Russia would result in adverse political and economic repercussions for Tehran, while making unflattering comparisons between Khamenei and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

    “One has sold Iran to Russia and ordered their peoples’ murder,” one account tweeted. “The other is wearing a combat uniform alongside his people and has stopped the colonization of Ukraine by Russia with all his might.”

    Scattershot fury

    There were also cloak-and-dagger initiatives intended to damage Iran’s standing in neighboring countries, and undermine its regional influence. Much of this work seems to have been concerned with spreading panic and alarm, and creating a hostile environment for Iranians abroad.

    For instance, accounts targeting audiences in Afghanistan claimed that Quds Force personnel were infiltrating Kabul posing as journalists in order to crush opposition to the Taliban. They also published articles from a US military-linked website that claimed on the basis of zero evidence that the bodies of dead refugees who’d fled to Iran were being returned to their families back home with missing organs.

    Yet another damaging false narrative perpetuated by this cluster in late 2021 and early 2022 was that the IRGC was forcing Afghan refugees to join militias fighting in Syria and Yemen, and that those who refused were being deported.

    Iraq was a country of particular interest to the Pentagon’s cyber warriors, with memes widely shared throughout Baghdad and beyond depicting IRGC influence in the country as a destructive disease, and content claiming Iraqi militias, and elements of the government, were effective tools of Tehran, fighting to further Iran’s imperial designs over the wider West Asia.

    Militias were also accused of killing Iraqis in rocket strikes, engineering droughts by damaging water supply infrastructure, smuggling weapons and fuel out of Iraq and into Syria, and fuelling the country’s crystal meth epidemic.

    Another cluster of Pentagon accounts focused on Iran’s involvement in Yemen, publishing content on major social networks critical of the Ansarallah-led de-facto government in Sanaa, accusing it of deliberately blocking humanitarian aid deliveries, acting as an unquestioning proxy of Tehran and Hezbollah, and closing bookstores, radio stations, and other cultural institutions.

    Several of their posts blamed Iran for the deaths of civilians via landmine, on the basis Tehran may have supplied them.

    Laying the ground

    Other CENTCOM psychological warfare (psywar) narratives have direct relevance to the protests that have engulfed Iran.

    There was a particular focus among one group of bots and trolls on women’s rights. Dozens of posts compared Iranian women’s opportunities abroad with those in Iran – one meme on this theme contrasted photos of an astronaut with a victim of violent spousal abuse – while others promoted protests against the hijab.

    Alleged government corruption and rising living costs were also recurrently emphasized, particularly in respect of food and medicine – production of which in Iran is controlled by the IRGC, a fact CENTCOM’s online operatives repeatedly drew attention to.

    Women’s rights, corruption, and the cost of living – the latter of which directly results from suffocating US sanctions – are all key stated motivating factors for the protesters.

    Despite the rioters’ widespread acts of violence and vandalism, targeted at civilians and authorities alike, such as the destruction of an ambulance ferrying police officers away from the scene of a riot, they also claim to be motivated by human rights concerns.

    Establishment and fringe journalists and pundits have dismissed as conspiracy theories, any suggestions that protests in Iran and beyond are anything other than organic and grassroots in nature.

    Yet, clear proof of foreign direction and sponsorship abounds, not least in the very public face of the anti-hijab movement, Masih Alinejad, who for many years has encouraged Iranian women to ceremonially burn their headscarves from the confines of an FBI safehouse in New York City, then publicizes the images online, which travel round the world and back via social media and mainstream news outlets.

    A regime-change war by other means

    Alinejad’s activities have generated a vast amount of fawning and credulous media coverage, without a single journalist or outlet questioning whether her prominent role in the supposedly grassroots, locally-initiated protest movement is affiliated with foreign hostile interference.

    This is despite Alinejad posing for photos with former CIA director Mike Pompeo, and receiving a staggering $628,000 in US federal government contracts since 2015.

    Much of these funds flowed from the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the US government agency that oversees propaganda platforms such as Radio Free Europe, and Voice of America, the latter of which has produced a Farsi-language show fronted by Alinejad for seven years.

    These clusters of social media posts may appear innocuous and authentic in an age of click-bait and viral fake news, yet when aggregated and analysed, they form a potent and potentially dangerous weapon which it turns out is one of many in the Pentagon’s regime-change arsenal.

    Contemporary Zionism pursues its assigned role as an advanced military and intelligence base of Anglo-American, European imperialism – Part II

    28 Jul 2022

    Source: Al Mayadeen English

    Niloufer Bhagwat 

    The Partition of Palestine to establish a Zionist Military Base in the Arab world; the Partition of Korea and the Partition of the Indian Subcontinent are an extension of the same strategy to set back National Liberation Movements in these regions.

    Contemporary Zionism pursues it assigned role as an advanced military and intelligence base of Anglo-American, European imperialism – Part II

    To read Part I, click here. (Wrong Link)

    The Zionist Israeli colonial-settler, apartheid, military and Intelligence project, was part of the new strategy for control of resource-rich regions of the world, implemented through British, American, and European policy, even as National Liberation Movements in Asia, Africa, and in the Arab world began freeing their countries from British, French and European colonial rule. The establishment of a Zionist military outpost in the Middle East to control adjacent regions was part of the new strategy for continuing colonial exploitation and occupation of several parts of the world by erstwhile colonial powers in collaboration with the United States, by partitioning countries they had earlier colonized, before their withdrawal, to establish proxy governments in various regions of the world, a different strategy to direct colonial rule. At the same time, the Indian Subcontinent was partitioned by the British collaborating with the pro-British comprador classes of different religious groups in India: Muslim, and Hindu, and a new country Pakistan created from this partition, another British project to establish theocratic states, immediately integrated into an Anglo-American Military pact against the Arab world, West Asia, the former USSR, and India. General Zia Ul Haq, then a brigadier in the Pakistan Army (later military dictator and President of Pakistan after a military coup) led a military expedition of Pakistan in 1970 to the Kingdom of Jordan allied with Britain, during what was known as ‘Black September’, to put down by military force the ‘Palestinian uprising’ in the West Bank of Palestine, leading to a massacre of Palestinians. In the Far East, Korea was partitioned by the United States, after the Korean war during which US forces used bio-weapons against the Korean people and its allies the Chinese Peoples’ Liberation Army, all cities of North Korea were destroyed. Thereafter a proxy government of the United States was placed in power in South Korea, a colonial adjunct of the United States in the region, and a US military base to dominate and control the Far East, apart from the US military bases in Japan, which exist till date, including for stationing of nuclear weapons platforms of the United States.

    The latest example of the establishment of a US military base and colonization of a country in East Europe is Ukraine, after Victoria Nuland, then-Assistant Secretary of State under the administration of President Obama (presently Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs), led the United States ‘Maidan’ coup of 2014 in Ukraine, which was another Anglo-American- Zionist and NATO project to control the resources of the region, to destroy both Ukraine and the Russian Federation and economically setback Europe, by deliberately inciting war on Europe’s Eastern periphery by initiating genocidal attacks on Eastern and Southern Ukraine’s predominantly Russian population, and attempting to destroy their language and culture and encouraging Ukraine and concerned European governments to renege on the Minsk Agreement signed with Russia. Thereafter an all-out economic war was declared on the Russian Federation, with sanctions imposed on Russia’s oil and gas resources, on Russian shipping, banking, and all its financial institution, to financially strangulate the Russian Federation, to control Russia’s trade in energy resources, in food and other commodities; the key to control several economies, the whole of Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America; and if necessary expand this into a Third World War for the Imperialist restructuring of the world, as earlier by the Second World War. Zionism is a global Imperial Military project integrated with Anglo-American Imperialism and NATO’s wars of aggression and internal subversion in Palestine, in the Arab world,  in Iran, and worldwide, including in Ukraine.

    The second reason for the failure by Jurists with exceptions, to examine the real nature of Zionism and the Zionist project of “Israel”, was the touching faith of many jurists in the United Nations and its resolutions, including of the Security Council and General Assembly and other organizations, instead of an objective and critical approach to resolutions and decisions of all UN bodies and instrumentalities. No institution national or international can be above scrutiny or is infallible. This approach led to the flawed academic tendency to accept decisions of all United Nations organizations as ‘gospel’ or ‘divine’ truth. Consequently, there was an ideological disinclination to examine the validity of the United Nations Palestine Partition Resolution of 1947 which led to the establishment of the Zionist entity of “Israel” in 1948, controlled by the financial and banking elite of the Anglo-Saxon-Zionist world, in their own interests. The 1947 Partition of Palestine Resolution was a violation of International Law. Palestinian territory was forcibly seized from the people of Palestine by Jewish European settlers, facilitated through the instrumentality of the British Mandate over Palestine, in reality, British colonial occupation. The Palestine Partition Resolution of 1947 was a violation of the right of Self-Determination of the Palestinian Arab people and a violation of General Assembly Resolutions on National Liberation Movements and anti-Colonial struggles of the people of Asia, Africa and South America among other regions. From the legal and political perspective, there was no basis for the 1947 Partition Resolution. The British Mandate over Palestine was ending and in accordance with International Law and De-colonization, it was necessary for Palestine to revert to the political control of the Indigenous Arab people of Palestine, subjugated by British occupation and colonial rule. For the United Nations to give legitimacy to the European Zionist Jewish Settler project, was a decision promoting European-settler colonization in Palestine, in violation of declared International Law on De-colonization and National Self-Determination, and to repeat in Palestine, what had taken place in past centuries in the United States of America, in Canada, in Australia, in New Zealand, in South Africa, in South West Africa, in South America, among other regions of the world; where ‘neo-Europes’ and European civilization were forcibly transplanted into alien soil, to perpetuate European occupation and colonization and the seizure of land and resources of vast continents exterminating the Indigenous people in a colonial holocaust not of 6 million, but of hundreds of millions worldwide including in India and China, with no reparation till date.

    The United Nations Charter is an International Treaty. The United Nations was not established as per its declared objectives to perpetuate a Zionist European Jewish Colonial-Settler and a ‘Racist and Apartheid’ Israeli Regime, massacring Palestinians, and waging a continuous war both on the people of Palestine in the West Bank, Gaza, and other Palestinian territories occupied by “Israel”, and expansionist wars of aggression on its Arab neighbors, to achieve the Zionist objective of dominating the region and seizing all resources, including land and water reservoirs of Palestine and river waters of neighboring states of Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, including in the Syrian Golan Heights, the Jordan river and Sea of Galilee; with no other justification than the Zionist self-propagated Racist theory of a superior or ‘Chosen People ’, causing widespread ecological devastation from the overuse of waters of the region. “Israel’s” policy is a continuous project for militarization and weaponization of the region against Palestinians, all “Israel’s” neighbors, and beyond against other countries in the wider region and adjacent continents; and includes a covert nuclear weapons program, while destroying peaceful nuclear energy projects of neighboring Arab states of Iraq and Syria; threatening the Iranian Nuclear Energy program, assassinating Iranian scientists, generals and military officers in Iran and in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon, that is in countries who have military co-operation agreements with Iran. “Israel” has stealthily infected Iranian facilities with the ‘Stuxnet Virus’ or computer worm to disrupt operations, and resisted all proposals for a ‘Nuclear –Free Zone’ for this entire region including for “Israel”. In a new Quad has been established for the Middle East, of the USA, India, “Israel” and the UAE, a so-called “Indo-Abrahamic” Bloc similar to the Quad of the ‘Indo-Pacific’ a strategic alliance of the US, Japan, India and Australia to counter China which is unlikely to be welcomed by the Arab street, which sees such an alliance which includes the United States and “Israel”, as a threat to the military and economic sovereignty of the Arab world and its energy resources, as this West Asia Quad in its statement refers to focus on joint investments in the region, in” water, energy, transportation, space, health and food security, etc. directly related to economic sovereignty of governments and the people of the region . President Joe Biden of the United States and Prime Minister Yair Lapid of “Israel” also signed a joint declaration on the state of the ‘strategic partnership’ between the two countries, which is in fact a military and strategic pact targeting Iran, purportedly to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. In reality, there is a military pact to threaten Iran as a possible prelude to incite a wider war in the region like in Ukraine in furtherance of NATO economic and military hegemony against the Multi-polar world order emerging.

    The ongoing genocide of the Palestinian people, the US-UK led Coalition’s repeated wars of aggression on Iraq, to which Ukraine contributed a military contingent as part of the coalition after the invasion of 2003; the US and NATO-led ISIS/Daesh/Jabhat Al-Nusra and their front organizations’ attacks in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon; the successive Israeli wars of aggression on Syria and Lebanon, and earlier on Jordan and Egypt; Israeli military advisers directing and participating in the war of aggression waged on Yemen are all the direct consequence of the powerful Zionist and Israeli lobbies of the United States, UK, France, among other NATO countries, controlling resources of the region, assisting in the expansionist military objectives of the state of “Israel”, the military and intelligence outpost of NATO.

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

    Iran and the Persian Gulf monarchies: Diplomacy remains their only option

    Reconciliation between Iran and the GCC will reap vast mutual benefits, while conflict only serves those outside the Persian Gulf

    September 07 2022

    Photo Credit: The Cradle

    By Mohammad Salami

    In mid-August, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states the UAE and Kuwait announced the return of their respective ambassadors to Iran after a six year hiatus.

    The move represents the latest sign of warming ties between Iran and the Persian Gulf sheikhdoms since the controversial execution of prominent, outspoken, Saudi Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Al-Nimr in 2016 interrupted relations.

    Nimr’s killing prompted angry protestors to storm the Saudi diplomatic mission in Tehran, leading to a concerted action by several GCC states to sever or downgrade relations with the Islamic Republic.

    The reconciliation of two GCC countries with Iran last month was a result of negotiations stretching back several years. These advances also come amid on-going – sometimes stalled – talks between Tehran and Riyadh, hosted by neutral mediators in Baghdad. So far, five rounds of discussions have been held, with the last one held in April and a sixth one looming on the horizon.

    Deescalation and diplomacy

    Over the past two years, tensions in the Persian Gulf region deescalated as regional states began to seek alternative options to wind down their various proxy fights in West Asia.

    The UAE has been at the forefront of these efforts, normalizing relations with Syria – another battleground against Iran – and agreeing to reset relations with Turkey last year after a decade of divergent ideological stances over the wider region.

    Following Abu Dhabi’s lead, Riyadh also markedly improved its own relations with Ankara after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s two-day trip to Saudi Arabia, which was reciprocated by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s (MbS) visit to the Turkish capital in June.

    Most important for the region, however, is the thorny issue of the longstanding, mutually-perceived threat between Iran and the ‘Saudi camp’ within the GCC. For various reasons, including defeats and setbacks in Syria and nearby Yemen, Iran’s Arab neighbors have come to realize that the continuation of hostilities with Tehran is no longer in their national security interest.

    “[Iran and Saudi Arabia] are neighbors. Neighbors forever. We cannot get rid of them, and they can’t get rid of us. So, it’s better for both of us to work it out and to look for ways in which we can coexist,” MbS said in an abrupt about-turn earlier this year.

    Such conciliatory views are shared by Tehran, as conveyed by Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani who told reporters on 22 August: “We are optimistic that a positive regional atmosphere is fostering a path of communication and dialogue, and ultimately better relations.”

    Rapprochement between Iran and the UAE was preceded by a similar trajectory; after four years of negotiations and five phone calls between Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed and his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, the two countries concluded that their interests can be better resolved through dialogue.

    “Short of confronting Iran, it is wiser to reach out to Mr. [Ebrahim] Raisi. One way to deal with Iran is to continue the conversation and find common ground for good neighborly relations,” AbdulKhaleq Abdulla, the former advisor to the UAE government wrote in an opinion article, in reference to the Iranian president.

    The diplomatic moves make sense considering that the UAE and Iran are economically interdependent; trade between Iran and the UAE is extensive, and Abu Dhabi is the largest exporter of goods to Iran. It is worth noting that despite tensions between the two countries, trade never completely ceased during the toughest times.

    Motivating factors

    Several factors have motivated this wholesale revision of policies towards Iran. Chief among these is the concern that GCC states can no longer depend on unconditional protection from unreliable allies outside the region.

    Certainly, US President Joe Biden’s focus on reentering the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement with Iran – unilaterally abandoned by his predecessor – is a strong indicator that Washington seeks to defuse its own decades-long standoff with Tehran to address more pressing national security priorities elsewhere.

    As the US military and foreign policy establishments recalibrate their focus onto major peer adversaries like China and Russia, Washington has reduced its defense and security commitment to its long-time allies in the Persian Gulf.

    This eroding ‘security guarantee,’ which began under former President Barack Obama and his “Pivot to Asia,” became strikingly evident in the 2019 Yemeni attack on Saudi’s Aramco oil facilities in Abqaiq and subsequent attacks on ships anchored in the UAE port of Fujairah, including two Saudi oil tankers.

    After the unprecedented strikes by Yemen’s resistance movement Ansarallah, Washington’s utter failure to provide material support to its closest Persian Gulf allies – who have spent billions to procure US military protection – strongly influenced the GCC’s decision to engage with Iran.

    “When the US didn’t follow through on defending its Arab partners following the Aramco attacks “it became imperative [for the UAE] to secure itself without relying on others – the US in particular – and engaging with Iran is a part of that,” Dina Esfandiary, a Middle East adviser at the International Crisis Group think tank explained.

    The US’ faltering pledge to safeguard the Arab states of the Persian Gulf was heavily criticized by the Senate Republican Policy Committee. In a statement in early August, it accused Biden of undermining his commitment to Persian Gulf allies and missing an opportunity to take advantage of developments in West Asia and the US-brokered Abraham Accords for a united front against Iran.

    Additional factors that accelerated dialogue with Iran include the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic – which encouraged further economic diversification away from reliance on oil revenues – the crisis in Ukraine, global energy shortages, and the issue of regional food security.

    Conflict with Iran is ‘off the table’

    The 2020 Abraham Accords presented an opportunity for Israel and its new Arab partners to form an anti-Iranian front aimed at reducing Iran’s geopolitical reach. But two years of inactive bluster about an “Arab NATO” has instead demonstrated that none of the Persian Gulf’s monarchies – despite plenty of encouragement from Tel Aviv and Washington – have the political will to take that confrontational regional step.

    Instead, in the aftermath of normalization, Arab states such as the UAE sought to gain economic and commercial benefits from Israeli IT technologies and clean energy companies, rather than crow for open confrontation with Iran. For this reason “Middle East NATO was a ‘theoretical’ concept and … for Abu Dhabi confrontation [with Iran] was not an option,” says Anwar Gargash, senior diplomatic advisor to the UAE president.

    Other GCC member states like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar have thus far opposed full normalization with Israel. They know that any overt anti-Iranian front – encouraged by the US and centered on Israel – serves primarily to rehabilitate Tel Aviv’s image within Arab countries, where populations remain hostile to Israel.

    They are also now painfully aware that the US will not waste its limited and valuable resources in West Asia when the strategic geography of the China Sea and East Asia are of infinitely more intrinsic value to Washington.

    Following the Jeddah Summit, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud said decisively: “There’s no such thing as Arabic NATO.”

    Pragmatism in the Persian Gulf

    Furthermore, for many Arabs, Iran acts as a valuable counterbalance to Israel in the region. The Persian Gulf – Levant and North Africa too – have a shared interest in obstructing Israel’s many troublesome and disruptive regional ambitions. Iran is a useful tool in this respect, as it absolves Arab states from doing the heavy lifting themselves, which would earn Washington’s ire.

    In turn, reconciliation with its Arab neighbors will help Iran mitigate the effects of US-imposed sanctions and isolation efforts. Tehran also wants to keep these diplomatic channels open should the nuclear negotiations in Vienna not come to fruition.

    Since his election in 2021, Iran’s President Raisi has repeatedly stressed that regional relations are the primary foreign policy focus of his administration. At the same time, Iran has introduced proposals on a mutually-beneficial regional security architecture that would exclude the need for external military forces in the Persian Gulf and its environs.

    Tehran believes a region-first approach can strengthen relations with neighbors across all fields and, importantly, build years of depleted trust. The question is whether its Arab neighbors, many of whom rose to power on the back on western colonial projects, can extract themselves from this dependency and forge independent security strategies.

    The timing is not bad. GCC states have concluded that the US will not guarantee security in the way they once perceived, and that Washington is – possibly permanently – distracted elsewhere. These events coincide with a global hike in oil and gas prices because of western sanctions on Russia. As a key member of OPEC+, Russia has thus far managed to keep influential Persian Gulf producers onside on production and pricing policies. China is investing billions in the Persian Gulf states on connectivity and infrastructure. Heavily dependent on Gulf energy resources, China – as well as Iran and Russia – is pushing for a new Persian Gulf security architecture run by regional states.

    While the moment may be ripe to advance these new ideas, Iran’s reconciliation with its Arab neighbors is contingent on all parties understanding their mutual interests and threats, which is essential to reduce conflict.

    The benefits will be game-changing for all. Ensuing stability in the Persian Gulf will bring about a more prosperous regional economy through interdependence, in addition to enhanced political, security, and geopolitical cooperation in the longer term.

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

    What to Expect at the Arab League Summit in Algiers

    Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360°  

    Amin Qammouria

    Algeria’s strong anti-colonial stance and ties to Russia, Syria and Iran ensures that the upcoming Arab League Summit in Algiers will be anything but business-as-usual

    Algeria will be taking the political centre stage in the Arab world when it hosts the 31st Arab League Summit on 2 November, the first after a three-year pandemic hiatus.

    As a former revolutionary state – once at the forefront of resistance against the western settler-colonialism of the twentieth century, and still today a champion of Arab resistance – it is no surprise that majority-Sunni Algeria continues to take positions that are at odds with those of western-backed Sunni Arab governments of West Asia and North Africa.

    Algeria’s principles that irk the region’s pro-west monarchies include its vehement opposition to Zionism, support of the Palestinian cause, insistence on maintaining relations with Iran, and engagement with Syria, with Algiers adamantly demanding that the Syrian state be readmitted to the Arab League.

    Diplomacy or distraction?

    The host country is pinning great hopes on the success of this summit for several reasons, the most important of which is its desire for a major event that restores vitality to Algerian diplomacy.

    The state’s regional clout had receded during the years of former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s prolonged illness and death, which inhibited his ability to exercise his duties. During this period, widespread street protests thwarted Bouteflika’s plans to extend his presidential term, ultimately bringing down his administration.

    By hosting the summit, Algiers seeks an opportunity to shine regionally and highlight its diplomatic reach, distracting Algerians from the daily grind they’ve endured for years. It is a formula Iraq’s prime minister has used to some degree of success.

    In this context, Algeria’s leaders have ensured the summit coincides with the 68th anniversary of the launch of their revolution against colonial France, and have planned an elaborate series of political, cultural, youth and artistic activities to burnish Algeria’s image as a regional powerhouse.

    These are intended to project the North African state as the new ‘Mecca of Arab diplomacy,’ just as it remains a hub for liberation movements across the Global South and the ‘Mecca for revolutionaries’ since the 1960s.

    It’s not such a wild idea. Algeria has come into play in recent years, not just for championing popular Arab worldviews, but for its geopolitical choices that are now in ascent. Like Syria, Algeria’s military is heavily invested with Russian equipment, training, and know-how. The energy-producing state is also receiving windfall profits from skyrocketing fuel and gas prices globally. And the increasing Russian, Iranian and Chinese (RIC) influence in West Asia – concurrent with the receding US presence – places Arab Algiers in a strong starting position.

    Energy and food security

    Recent global and regional developments, however, may make this Arab League meeting one of its most complex summits. The reverberations of Russia’s military operations in Ukraine just as the world began to emerge from the repercussions of the pandemic, have added a slate of pressing issues to Algiers’ table in November.

    The impact of these two events have reshuffled geopolitical cards everywhere, and caused a global energy crisis that has placed several nations on the brink of severe economic and food crises.

    In the unlikely scenario that the war in Ukraine ends before this year’s Arab Summit, its impact will remain on the top of the agenda. On the economic level, oil and gas prices will be a priority for both energy-producing and energy-consuming Arab countries, with expectations that the price of a barrel of oil will exceed $160 if the situation continues as is.

    Another important agenda item is food security – especially vital crops such wheat and maize. It is expected that the summit will study the possibility of inter-cooperation to develop agriculture within regional states, with the hope that the studies will not remain as ink on paper as is the usual outcome of these gatherings.

    Algeria calls for Syria’s return

    Syria’s return to the Arab League after its highly politicized and unprecedented suspension in 2011 is another important challenge facing the summit. Algeria, which has maintained good relations with Damascus, has been adamant that Syria should be re-admitted to the League.

    Algiers’ position is supported by several Arab countries such as Tunisia, Lebanon, Iraq, the UAE and Bahrain. But Syria’s return depends on buy-in from the remaining members too – with Qatar playing spoiler to Damascus’ regional rehabilitation. This too may change in time, as even Doha’s close Turkish allies are working toward normalizing relations with the Syrian government.

    Syria’s membership was suspended at a highly-irregular emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo in November 2011. The move came after the Syrian government failed to implement the terms of the “Arab initiative” that gave President Bashar Al-Assad an unrealistic two weeks to conduct a political dialogue with the opposition, form a “national unity government” within two months, and conduct early presidential and parliamentary elections.

    Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit has said Syria’s participation in the upcoming Arab summit “is still subject to an Arab consensus,” which has not yet been achieved.

    It does not seem that the countries that demanded the suspension of Syria’s membership will agree to its return as long as the conditions of suspension still exist. In turn, Damascus is unenthusiastic about returning to the League before certain Arab countries apologize for their material support of the Syrian armed opposition.

    In fact, on 4 September, in a phone call with his Algerian counterpart Ramtane Lamamra, Syrian Foreign Minister Faysal Mikdad appeared to unilaterally bow out from the November summit, saying he “prefers not to raise” Syrian’s readmission to the League at this time.

    Mikdad said his decision was made to keep the Arab focus on more urgent issues facing the region: “[To] contribute to uniting the Arab world and ranks in facing the challenges posed by the current situation at the regional and international levels.”

    Israel’s presence at Algeria’s border

    The most pressing diplomatic issue for Algiers though has been its fallout with neighboring Rabat, particularly following the latter’s decision to resume relations and sign defense agreements with Tel Aviv, which has heightened security concerns in Algeria.

    It remains to be seen whether Morocco will participate in the summit after Algiers severed diplomatic relations with Rabat in August 2021.

    At the heart of the neighbors’ spat is a territorial dispute in the Western Sahara. Both states have long been at odds over this sparsely-populated desert terrain where the Algiers-backed Polisario Front is seeking independence from Rabat’s rule. Morocco, in turn, is believed to have secured Washington’s recognition of its ‘sovereign claim’ to the Western Sahara in exchange for normalizing relations with Tel Aviv.

    Morocco fears that, as the summit’s host, Algeria will be able to advance the momentum on this contentious issue and win over other Arab states to its side.

    With the escalation in tension between the two countries, Algerian political writer Ahmed Boudaoud expects Morocco to be absent from this summit or reduce its level of representation: “especially with the assurances of Algerian officials that their country’s position will not change as long as the reasons that led to the diplomatic rupture between the two countries persist.”

    In order to legitimize the diplomatic and economic estrangement with Rabat, Algeria may insist at the summit on issuing a statement condemning the wave of Arab normalization with Israel.

    But such a statement will not be unanimously approved as long as there are influential countries, in addition to Morocco, with which Israel has peace treaties, such as Egypt, Jordan, the UAE, Sudan and Bahrain.

    Unwavering Palestinian solidarity

    As is customary in all Arab summits, the Palestinian issue is given priority on the agenda – though typically without any practical measures that actually support Palestinians and their oft-neglected cause.

    But Algerian President Abdel Majid Tebboune made a special gesture toward Palestinians in an attempt to reconcile key factions at the summit, particularly Fatah and Hamas.

    On 6 July, Tebboune brought together Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the head of the Hamas’ political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, during their attendance at the 60th anniversary celebrations of Algeria’s independence.

    Despite the meeting being praised as “historic” after years of estrangement, the gloomy looks on the faces of those present, and the statements issued thereafter, indicated that reconciliation is far from being achieved.

    The limits of Algerian diplomacy

    The situation in neighboring Libya, around which both regional and European schisms are intensifying, will be another important issue expected to be discussed in Algiers.

    Algeria seeks to consolidate Arab consensus around the  adoption of a “Libyan-Libyan solution” which rejects any external interference that might hinder the unification of the Libyan parties and disrupt the course of upcoming presidential elections.

    Some Arab countries such as Morocco, however, have accused Algeria of interference in Libya with the intention to dominate its neighbor’s political discourse – taking particular aim at Algiers’ own diplomatic shortcomings in Libya and its failed mediation attempt in the Egyptian-Ethiopian dispute over the Renaissance Dam.

    Cracks in Arab “unity” will also appear in discussions on the growing Iranian and Turkish influence in a number of Arab countries.

    Given the significant Arab differences over basic regional and global issues, and the preoccupation of each of states with their internal problems and priorities, the Algeria summit will likely be similar to the summits that preceded it: Luxurious receptions, resonant speeches, projects, plans, and decisions that expire the moment participants return to their respective countries.

    Although swimming against a powerful tide of Arab states still servile to western diktats, an Algeria noted for its revolutionary struggle toward genuine independence will not entirely be faulted for sticking to its principles. Instead, Algiers will be able to collect its ‘summit success’ from the popular sentiment of the Arab street, which still shares its worldview stances.

    The Siege of West Asia

    TUESDAY 30 AUG 2022

    Source

    By Tim Anderson

    The one redeeming feature of the US-EU siege of West Asia, one of the worst crimes of the 21st century, is that it is forcing a restructuring of international economic relations, away from a Washington-centred unipolar world.

    With multiple failed or failing wars, Washington and its NATO partners and hangers-on have imposed a genocidal economic siege on a contiguous bloc of seven West Asian countries, between the Mediterranean and the Himalayas.

    The physical blockades on Palestine and Yemen are joined by coercive measures on Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. Amongst other things, this brutal regional siege has led to 90% of the Syrian population living in poverty  and the blockaded people of Yemen suffering the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

    The aim in all cases has been ‘to starve and cause desperation’ amongst entire populations – as was said about Washington’s blockades on Cuba and on Iran. The explicit aim is imposing ‘deliberate harm’, in the hope of coercing political change. A key associated aim is to help the zionist colony keep stealing Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese land, and so destabilise and cripple the development of the entire region.

    While much of this siege is imposed in the name of ‘democracy’, ‘human rights’ and ‘anti-terrorism’, none of the NATO allied states of the region – like the Saudis, the UAE and Qatar, who actually finance and arm mass sectarian terrorism – face ‘sanctions’.

    The pretexts for this siege are buried in pseudo-legal inventions. The US Treasury’s OFAC database has lists of dozens of ‘sanctioned’ entities and individuals in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Yemen. There are not many ‘sanctions’ against Afghanistan, after 20 years of US and NATO military occupation. However it is notorious that Washington has seized several billion dollars belonging to Afghanistan’s Central Bank, simply because the U.S. is dissatisfied with the current Afghan government. That is certainly a big factor in the looming mass starvation of millions of people in that unfortunate West Asian country.

    So what are sanctions and when can they be justified? In international law two principles are said to limit a state’s retaliation against others: that the response should be ‘in proportion’ to an alleged action by the other; and that any reprisal only comes after attempts at negotiation.

    But retaliation is unlawful when (1) the aim is to damage the economy of another nation, or there is (2) an attempt at political coercion or (3) the measures imposed also damage the rights of third parties. All these illegal elements are at work in Washington’s current regional siege. Such unilateral ‘sanctions’ are now termed ‘unilateral coercive measures’ (UCMs) and subject to special scrutiny at the United Nations.

    For some time international agencies have reported on the catastrophic impact of this siege, for example in Syria and Yemen. Despite the theoretical ‘humanitarian’ exemptions in both US and European coercive measures, the U.S. strangle hold on finance means there is severe impact on essentials such as food, medicine and energy.

    The W.H.O. has reported that unilateral US-EU ‘sanctions’ damage children’s cancer treatment in Syria. Medical studies have condemned Europe’s coercive ‘sanctions’ for their damage to COVID-19 prevention and treatment in Syria, while the UN rapporteur on the impact of Unilateral Coercive Measures, Ms Alena Douhan, has called for an end to Washington’s UCMs which inhibit the rebuilding of Syria’s civilian infrastructure, destroyed by the conflict. “The sanctions violate the human rights of the Syrian people, whose country has been destroyed by almost 10 years of ongoing conflict,” said Ms Douhan.

    Washington’s anti-Syrian ‘Caesar Law’ was also condemned as it attempts to block third party support for the Syrian population. “I am concerned that sanctions imposed under the Caesar Act may exacerbate the already dire humanitarian situation in Syria, especially in the course of COVID-19 pandemic, and put the Syrian people at even greater risk of human rights violations,” she said.

    Siege measures on north African countries have come under similar criticism. In 2015 the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the impact of ‘sanctions’ on human rights, Idriss Jazairy, urged States which have imposed UCMs on Sudan to review their policies. “Sudan has been under unilateral coercive measures for two decades without any adaptation .. The signal given by compulsory measures is in contradiction with their proclaimed objectives” he said, referring to the financial restrictions imposed on all business transactions with Sudan.

    In Yemen, the rational is a little different. The US-EU ‘Sanctions’ which sustain the humanitarian crisis are carried out with direct approval by the UN Security Council, under the misguided idea that an interim president from 2014 (Mansour Hadi, in exile in Saudi Arabia for the last seven years) is still the legitimate President of the country. The actual revolutionary government (the only successful revolution of the so-called Arab Spring) led by Ansarallah (disparagingly referred to as ‘Houthi rebels’) is under UNSC sanctions. So the siege on Yemen is authorised under international law, unlike the UCMs against Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran.

    Nevertheless, a UN body has said that the western powers and their Persian Gulf allies (especially the Saudis and the U.A.E.) waging war on Yemen should be held responsible for war crimes. That 2019 report detailed a range of war crimes over the previous five years, including airstrikes, indiscriminate shelling, snipers, landmines, as well as arbitrary killings and detention, torture, sexual and gender-based violence, and impeding access to humanitarian aid.

    This writer has previously argued that the UN Security Council has betrayed the people of Yemen, exacerbating ‘the world’s ‘worst humanitarian crisis’ by demonising and sanctioning the revolutionary government while backing a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) puppet.

    UCM regimes, now so popular with the USA and the European Union, have been condemned by independent UN experts for violating international law and for impeding the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. While UCMs are “imposed mostly in the name of human rights, democracy and the rule of law”, Rapporteur Douhan concludes they actually “undermine those very principles, values and norms” while inflicting humanitarian damage.

    The one redeeming feature of the US-EU siege of West Asia, one of the worst crimes of the 21st century, is that it is forcing a restructuring of international economic relations, away from a Washington-centred unipolar world. In future the BRICS bloc, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and allied groups will play a much greater role.

    Iran’s UN Envoy Slams “Israel” Refusal to Join NPT, Urges Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in ME

    August 27, 2022

    By Staff, Agencies

    A senior Iranian diplomat has denounced the “Israeli” entity’s continued refusal to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT], stressing that establishing a Middle East region free of nuclear weapons is of utmost importance.

    Iran’s ambassador and permanent representative to the United Nations, Majid Takht-Ravanchi, made the remarks while speaking to reporters on Friday on the sidelines of the Tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons held at the UN headquarters in New York.

    “The issue of the Middle East as a region free of nuclear weapons is one of the important discussions… because the ‘Israeli’ regime, as the only possessor of hundreds of nuclear warheads, is not ready to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and place its nuclear facilities under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency,” he said.

    He added that the “Israeli” entity’s refusal to join the NPT comes as some countries are cooperating with the regime and have always supported it.

    The Iranian delegation attending the tenth NPT review conference played a constructive role in highlighting the significance of a Middle East region free of weapons of mass destruction, he said

    As documents relating to the NPT review conferences in 1995, 2000, and 2010 have explicitly announced that the apartheid “Israeli” regime must join the treaty, the Iranian team emphasized that the issue should also be included in the final statement of the 10th NPT review meeting, Takht-Ravanchi added.

    He emphasized that during the current conference, the Islamic Republic clearly announced that it would not back down from its stance on the importance of a Middle East without any weapons of mass destruction.

    “We said that this issue is one of the red lines of the Islamic Republic of Iran and if they want to act honestly and constructively, the literature used in the statements of previous conferences should also be used in this conference in order to move towards a Middle East without nuclear weapons,” the senior Iranian diplomat pointed out.

    He noted that Iran seeks to reach a consensus with the participants at the current NPT review conference but it has principles and certain measures must be carried out.

    In a Monday address to the Tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Takht-Ravanchi expressed concern over the lack of progress in the implementation of the 1995 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty [NPT] resolution and the 2010 action plan on the Middle East, saying the “Israeli” regime must eliminate its stockpile of nuclear weapons.

    Takht-Ravanchi also slammed the US double standards, saying the entity’s accession to the NPT “without precondition and further delay” and the placement of all of its nuclear activities and facilities under the comprehensive IAEA safeguards are “essential in realizing the goal of universal adherence to the Treaty in the Middle East and the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.”

    The “Israeli” entity, which pursues a policy of deliberate ambiguity about its nuclear weapons, is estimated to possess 200 to 400 nuclear warheads in its arsenal, making it the sole possessor of non-conventional arms in West Asia.

    The illegitimate entity has, however, refused to either allow inspections of its military nuclear facilities or sign the NPT.

    What has emboldened Tel Aviv to accelerate its nuclear activities, according to observers, is the support from the US and Europe, the two countries most critical of Iran’s peaceful nuclear program.

    The regime has assassinated at least seven Iranian nuclear scientists and conducted a series of sabotage operations against the Islamic Republic’s nuclear facilities.

    An Alternative Open Letter to Western Politicians

    August 15, 2022

    Source

    by Asia Teacher

    Dear western politicians!

    Leaving aside the usual sycophantic nonsense, which applauds your continuing efforts to bring freedom and democracy to the Middle East with missile attacks, trying to change the earth’s climate using beliefs, promising an unknown source of ‘green’ energy whilst promoting vaccines to save us from certain death from a dose of flu, here’s an alternative open letter.

    As a UK citizen now retired, having recently returned to the UK after over a decade of living and working in Asia and the Far East I’m stunned by the stupification around me. Have I inadvertently fallen down an alternative universe Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole, or is there a hidden factory somewhere mass-producing stupid politicians?

    As yet another British Prime Minister resigns following the resignations of two others before him producing a failing economy, soaring inflation, sky-high taxes, an energy crisis and a falling pound … The indoctrinated cheer on men with beards wearing dresses and it’s left to a dwindling minority to explain why carrots don’t grow on trees in a socially engineered ideological dystopia! The consequences of which you blame on the Russians, or the Chinese depending on who the US has currently fallen out with.

    As you sit in your elitist tax payer funded ivory towers, let’s briefly detail the chaos and mayhem you’ve produced.

    Did you think the outside world believed you were trying to bring freedom and democracy to the Middle East and not trying to control the world’s major oil producers who just all happened to have abandoned the petrodollar? How many millions lost their lives in that failed adventure?

    How many of you swooned over a 16-year-old autistic Swedish school drop out with Asperger’s syndrome, OCD and selective mutism whose mother said she had “special eyes” that could see carbon rising from a dying planet? As a self-inflicted energy crisis looms and both Britain and Germany re-open coal-fired power stations, are you still cheering for mentally ill Greta and her windmills?

    How can you keep a straight face whilst telling millions that if they didn’t have the Covid vaccine they’d be passing on the flu they didn’t have onto others? How much of the vaccine scam profit disappeared into the pockets of pharmaceuticals, lobbyists and your own pockets? The whole country could hear the cash tills ringing as shares in the pharmaceuticals producing vaccines went through the roof amid crony contracts awarded to favoured companies. Are you listening former British Health Secretary Matt Hancock who resigned after being caught with his nose in the trough.

    Predictably, as the manufactured hysteria wore off and attention spans waned, the advice from the British National Health Service was to open our windows and let the virus out. Apparently, it had been hiding in our homes the whole time? Moreover, the experiment of a “new normal” locked down muzzled population also failed, together with the attempt to introduce Covid passports as hundreds of thousands took to the streets in Britain and throughout Europe in mass demonstrations to protest against the implementation of virtual house arrest and freedom of movement. After this, what comes next, a climate change lock down?

    Moving on, Russia, who just by coincidence is another major energy producer surrounded by NATO missile bases and sanctioned hoping its economy collapses and produces another “regime change.” Why does that produce a feeling of déjà vu? How long did you believe a nuclear power would tolerate an aggressive US led NATO advancing towards its border? The last time western armies gathered on Russian borders was in 1941 and that didn’t end well.

    Oh the irony, as you cheer for the same Nazis your grandfathers fought against and vilify the Russians who are now having to fight them again. How many of you condemned the previous eight years of ethnic Russian murders in the Crimea and Donbass by Nazi militias who you helped arm and train, but turned a blind eye to the consequences. No crocodile tears and outraged comments from you when Russian civilians were being killed. Make no mistake, in another era the majority of you would be sitting in the same Nuremberg dock as the previous psychopaths!

    For the last quarter century you are without doubt the most useless, corrupt and destructive political class in British history. In one generation you have dumbed down the British population to an idiocracy in your ‘Woke’ eagerness to remove the cultural traditions and values of centuries. As suicide statistics soar, mental health issues reach an all-time high and drugs become a lifestyle choice for many to block out the horror of reality, it’s not a diverse and equality multicultural utopia you’ve produced, it’s a nightmare!

    And you, the US demagogues and liberal fascist European Commissioners; in two decades your ideologically warped quest for power has not only failed to make the world a safer place, you have brought us to the verge of a nuclear conflict. Between you, you’ve managed to wreck our economies, brought terrorism to our streets and created the worst energy crisis since the 1970s – whilst becoming fabulously wealthy yourselves. Yes, we have noticed. The sooner you’re removed from power, the sooner both we the western populations and the outside world can have a rest from your incompetence and murderous activities!

    Meanwhile, as I write from England, outside my window another car with exhaust baffles removed and the window wound down emitting ear-splitting decibels of rap ‘music’ drives past, whilst on the pavement a silent E-scooter carrying a bald middle-aged man with expressionless eyes in short trousers and tattooed legs races by.

    Asia Teacher is a UK citizen, retired teacher of English plus Social and Political Science.

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