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Coups and Neo-Coups in Latin America

By Juan Paz y Miño Cepeda |Venezuelanalysis | September 15, 2020

I recently received an article entitled “Coups and neo-coups in Latin America. Violence and political conflict in the twenty-first century” by Carlos Alberto Figueroa Ibarra, a long-time friend and academic at the University of Puebla, Mexico, and Octavio Humberto Moreno Velador, a professor at the same university.

The authors say that since the 1980s, democracy in Latin America has asserted itself across the continent, so much so that the topic has become recurrent in the political sciences. However, during the first seventeen years of the 21st century, new coups resurfaced, which they describe as “neo-coups.”

During the twentieth century, the authors identified 87 coups in South America and the Caribbean, with Bolivia and Ecuador being the most hit countries, while Mexico has only suffered once. The greatest concentration of coups occurred in four decades: 1930-1939 with 18; 1940-1949 with 12; 1960-1969 with 16 and 1970-1979 with 13. Between 1900-1909 and 1990-1999, the fewest coups occurred (3 and 1, respectively). Finally, 63 coups were deemed as military-led; 7 civilian; 8 civic-military; 6 presidential self-coups and three military self-coups. 77 percent of coups had a marked influence of right-wing ideology and party participation, and since the 1960s US intervention has been observed in several coups.

The neo-coups of the 21st century, however, are different from the coups of the twentieth century and with distinct characteristics. Of the seven studied, four have been carried out by the military/police (two which failed in Venezuela/2002 and Ecuador/2010 and two which were successful in Haiti/2004 and Honduras/2009). Likewise, two were parliamentary coups (Paraguay/2012 and Brazil/2016, both successful) and one was a civilian-state-led coup (Bolivia/2008, failed). In three of them, there is evidence of US intervention (Haiti, Bolivia and Honduras).

The intervention of the military or police took place in Venezuela, Haiti, Honduras and Ecuador. In Haiti, Bolivia and Brazil, large-scale concentrations of opposition citizen groups preceded the coups, exerting political pressure. There were also other cases of subsequent concentrations in support of Presidents Hugo Chávez and Rafael Correa, which prevented the success of the coups against them.

In three cases there was clear intervention by the judiciary (Honduras, against Manuel Zelaya; Paraguay, against Fernando Lugo; and Brazil, against Dilma Rousseff), and also of the legislative powers.

In addition, regional and supranational institutions have intervened in defence of democracy, specifically MERCOSUR, UNASUR, CELAC and even the Rio Group.

The authors conclude that “The new coups have sought to evade their cruder military expression in order to seek success. In this sense, the intervention of judicial and parliamentary institutions have represented a viable alternative to maintaining democratic continuity, despite the breakdown of constitutional and institutional pacts.”

To the analysis carried out by the two professors, and which I summarise without going into too many details, some considerations may be added.

All the coups of the 21st century have been directed against rulers of the Latin American progressive cycle: Hugo Chávez, Evo Morales, Manuel Zelaya, Rafael Correa, Fernando Lugo, Dilma Rousseff, and Haiti, where the case is particular because of the turbulence that the country has experienced where the military coup was against Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who had won the election with 91.69 percent of the vote.

Progressive governments aroused furious enemies: business elites, traditional oligarchies, military sectors of old “McCarthyism” anti-communism, the political right, “corporate” media, and, no doubt, imperialism.

There is not a single coup d’état led by “leftist” forces, which reveals an equally new phenomenon: the entire left has accepted democracy as a political system and elections as an instrument through which they may come to power. Historically speaking, this phenomenon represents a continuation of Salvador Allende’s and the Chilean Popular Unity’s thesis, which trusted in the possibility of building socialism through a peaceful path. It is the political and economic right, which have turned to neo-coup mongering, with their discourse of defending “democracy.”

Those same right-wing sectors have not only sponsored “soft coups,” but also promoted the use of two mechanisms that have been tremendously successful to them. Firstly, lawfare, or “legal war,” used to pursue, in appearance of legality, those who have served or identified with progressive governments. Secondly, the use of the most influential media (but also of social media and their “trolls”), which were put at the service of combating “populists” and “progressives,” and defend the interests of persecuting governments, business elites, rich sectors and transnational capital. These phenomena have been clearly expressed in Brazil against Inácio Lula da Silva, Dilma Roussef and the PT Workers’ Party, but also in Bolivia, against Evo Morales and the MAS Movement to Socialism and in Ecuador, where righting forces have achieved the prosecution of Rafael Correa, of figures of his government and of the “correístas.” In Argentina Alberto Fernández’s triumph stopped the legal persecution against Cristina Fernández and “Kirchnerismo”.

But there is, finally, a new element to be added to the neo-coup mongering of the 21st century, which is the anticipated coup d’état. This has been inaugurated in Bolivia and Ecuador.

In Bolivia, not only was the vote count suspended and Evo Morales forced to take refuge outside the country, but [he and his party] have been politically outlawed, and every effort has been made to marginalise them from future elections.

In Ecuador, all kinds of legal ruse have been used to prevent Rafael Correa’s vice-presidential candidacy (he was ultimately not admitted), to not recognise his party and other forces that could sponsor him, as well as to make it difficult for the [Correa-backed] Andrés Araúz team to run for the presidency.

It also has an equally unique characteristic of what happened in Chile. In Chile, despite the protests and social mobilisations, as well as domestic and international political pressure, the political plot was finally manipulated in such a way that the plebiscite convened for October/2020 will not be for a Constituent Assembly (which could dictate a new constitution), but for a Constitutional Convention, which allows traditional forces to preserve their hegemony, according to the analysis carried out by renowned researcher Manuel Cabieses Donoso.

As a result, neo-coup mongering has shown that, while institutional and representative democracy has become a commonplace value and a line of action for the social and progressive lefts, it has also become an instrument that allows access to government and, with it, the orientation of state policies for the popular benefit and not at the service of economic elites.

On the other hand, it has become an increasingly “dangerous” instrument for the same bourgeoisie and internal oligarchy, as well as imperialism, to such an extent that they no longer hold back from breaking with their own rules, legalities, institutions or constitutional principles, using new forms of carrying out coups.

It is, however, an otherwise obvious lesson in Latin American history: when popular processes advance, the forces willing to liquidate them are also prepared. And finally, for these forces, democracy doesn’t matter at all, only saving businesses, private accumulation, wealth and the social exclusiveness of the elites.

Juan J. Paz y Miño Cepeda is an Ecuadorian historian from the PUCE Catholic University of Quito. He is also the former vice-president of the Latin-American and Caribbean Historian’s Association (ADHILAC).

Translation by Paul Dobson for Venezuelanalysis.

September 17, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cuties and Useful Idiots

Amazing Polly | September 16, 2020

The Cabal of Global Oligarchs is losing control of the narrative they’ve kept under wraps for so long and the cover-upperers have gone berzerk in their effort to hide what they are doing. In this video I look at the latest anti-anti-human trafficking pieces from the media, as well as the reaction to a new, revolting Netflix film.


VIDEO: The Richest Most Twisted Swamp Creatures Ever:

Sundance sex abuse:

HuffPo: It’s out of Control:

California Law more lenient for homosexual offenders:

RAMRANTS Joe Biden videos:

Daily Mail Sundance sex abuse:

USA Today: Star of Cheer charged s with minor:

IOM stats on trafficking:

HUFFPO: It’s out of Control Q:

Matt Binder:

To send a contribution to this channel (thank you!) you can send:
– via Paypal:
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September 17, 2020 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , | Leave a comment

FBI director says Russia is engaged in ‘very active efforts’ to sink Biden & rehashes 2016 claims… but provides no evidence

RT | September 17, 2020

Russia is reprising its still-unproven 2016 election meddling efforts, this time targeting Democratic challenger Joe Biden, according to FBI Director Christopher Wray, who gave no evidence to support his crowd-pleasing claims.

Wray told the House of Representatives that Russia is taking a “very active” role in the 2020 US election, claiming Moscow “continues to try to influence our elections, primarily through what we call malign foreign influence” during a Thursday hearing on national security threats.

According to the FBI director, the Russians’ primary goal seems to be not only to “sow divisiveness and discord,” but to trash Democratic nominee Joe Biden – along with “what the Russians see as a kind of anti-Russian establishment” – through social media, “use of proxies,” state-run media, and “online journals.”

Wray contrasted 2020’s alleged meddling with that of 2016, which he claimed involved “an effort to target election infrastructure,” presenting no evidence to back up either current or past claims – other than that the FBI or other intelligence agencies had made the same claims in the past. There is no actual evidence that Russia interfered with election infrastructure in 2016.

While four years of similarly flavored conspiracy theories blaming Russia for Donald Trump’s 2016 win have come up empty-handed, the paucity of real-world evidence for ‘Russian meddling’ has not stopped Wray and other US intel officials from hyping it up as a major threat to the integrity of the democratic process.

The National Counterintelligence and Security Center suggested last month that, while Russia would interfere in the election in favor of Trump, China and Iran would meddle on behalf of Biden – implying Americans couldn’t vote at all without doing the bidding of a foreign nation.

Former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats even suggested Congress create another election integrity body to supervise the vote in November, apparently concerned the existing authorities – all 54 of them, one for each state plus four federal entities tasked with keeping meddlers, foreign and domestic, shut out – weren’t enough.

Wray insisted the FBI was not only working closely with its state and federal counterparts, but also interfacing on a daily basis with social media companies – though he did not go into detail regarding what information the tech giants were handing over to law enforcement (or vice versa).

During his testimony before Congress, Wray also broke with the Trump administration’s viewpoint on the subject of Antifa, insisting the often-violent leftist group was “more of an ideology than an organization.” However, he admitted “we have seen folks who subscribe or identify with the Antifa movement, who coalesce regionally into small groups or nodes, and they are certainly organized at that level.” Trump has called for Antifa to be declared a terrorist organization.

September 17, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | , , | 2 Comments

Four ex-directors of French Shia Muslim centre arrested

French policemen in Paris, France on 18 March 2017 [Mustafa Yalçın/Anadolu Agency]

MEMO | September 17, 2020

Four ex-directors of a Shia Muslim centre in France have been arrested over concerns they continued to run the organisation despite it being disbanded by authorities in March last year, Agence France Presse (AFP) reports.

The four directors were taken into custody on Tuesday. Three have been remanded in custody, while one was freed over health concerns.

French prosecutors are reportedly investigating the four men for “participation in or maintenance of a dissolved association”, AFP quoted local sources as saying.

The centre was disbanded last year over allegations members were inciting armed jihadism and condoning the actions of regional players, such as Hezbollah, designated as terrorist organisations by the French government.

According to the report, members of the centre also propagated hate speech and anti-Semitism, as well as inciting violence.

The French court, which confirmed the centre’s closure after an appeal last June, said the activities of the organisation amounted to “propaganda intended to glorify the armed struggle and to provoke hatred and violence”, Le Monde reported.

“In the Zahra Centre, sermons are given which call for a fight against Zionism, against Israel and against Saudi Arabia and which, for some, legitimised armed jihad”, the French daily quoted court officials as saying.

According to the AFP report, the four continued preaching at the Zahra Centre’s site in northern France as well as on social media, despite last year’s order to cease and desist, leading to their arrests.

The Zahra Centre was founded in 2009 by Yahia Gouasmi, an Algerian-born Frenchman who also established an anti-Zionist political party in France in the same year. He is believed to have frequently spoken in support of Hezbollah, according to AFP.

The Zahra Centre was also subject to police scrutiny in October 2018, when local authorities raided the group’s headquarters over suspicions of links to terrorist organisations, Reuters reported.

At least 200 police officers, including elite troopers from Paris, took part in the pre-dawn raid on the Zahra Centre, discovering and seizing a cache of illegal weapons. Three people were remanded in custody over the discovery and the organisation’s French financial assets were frozen.

September 17, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Progressive Hypocrite | , | 1 Comment

West cannot hide crimes against Syria with humanitarian allegations: Syrian envoy to UN

Press TV – September 17, 2020

Syrian Ambassador to the United Nations Bashar al-Ja’afari says the West’s crimes, including economic terrorism, against Syria cannot be hidden by humanitarian claims and allegations.

Speaking at a UN Security Council session on the humanitarian situation in Syria via a video link, Ja’afari said the Western states, which have introduced coercive economic measures against the Arab country, would not be able to cover up the repercussions of their economic terrorism against Syrians.

He also stressed that the humanitarian allegations against Syria made by the West would not be able to hide its horrible crimes in exerting more pressure on the Arab nation and hampering the reconstruction process in the war-ravaged country and the return of the displaced Syrians.

Ja’afari noted that some Western countries, which have slapped Syria with persisting illegal sanctions, are telling outright lies in claiming that they are not targeting Syrians and that they are trying to provide humanitarian and medical exemptions to assist the Syrians.

The Syrian envoy also lambasted claims by the Western states that Damascus had deprived COVID-19 Syrian patients of due treatment, stressing that Syrian citizens are in fact suffering greatly from the disastrous effects of Western coercive measures.

“Since 1978, the US successive administrations have imposed coercive measures on the Syrian economy and its vital sectors, such as civil aviation, petroleum, energy, telecommunications, technology, banking, import and the export, including the import and manufacturing of food, medicines and basic medical equipment, to dissuade Syria from its stances in rejection of the hegemony and occupation policies,” Ja’afari added.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Syrian envoy demanded the withdrawal of all Turkish troops and their allied militant groups from northern and northwestern parts of the Arab country.

He also stressed the need for ending the US occupation of the areas northeast of the Arab country and holding Washington and its allies and separatist militias and terrorist groups affiliated to it responsible for prolonging the suffering of the displaced in al-Hawl and al-Rukban camps.

In conclusion, Ja’afari referred to a recent report by the Guardian, which cited US research centers and academics as saying that the US, since 2001, has displaced 37 million persons in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Yemen and elsewhere under the slogan of the so-called “war on terrorism.”

September 17, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Illegal Occupation, Progressive Hypocrite | , | 4 Comments

How USA and Turkey Plunder and Loot Syria with Impunity

By Rick Sterling | Dissident Voice | September 16, 2020

While President Trump lashes out at rioting and looting in Portland and Kenosha, half way around the world, the USA and Turkey are plundering and looting Syria on a vastly greater scale with impunity and little publicity.

Turkey Loots Syria, then Disrupts Safe Water Supply  

Turkey has been plundering the Syrian infrastructure for years.  Beginning in late 2012 and continuing through 2013 some 300 industrial factories were dismantled and taken to Turkey from Aleppo, the industrial capital of Syria. “Machinery and goods were loaded on trucks and carried off to Turkey through the Cilvegozu and Ceylanpinar crossings. Unfortunately, ‘plundering’ and ‘terror’ have become permanent parts of the Syrian lexicon when explaining their saga.”

In October 2019 Turkish forces invaded Syria and now occupy a strip of land in north east Syria. The area is controlled by the Turkish military and pro Turkish militia forces misnamed the “Syrian National Army”. Turkish President Erdogan dubbed the invasion “Peace Spring” and said the goal was to create a “safe zone”. The reality was that 200 thousand Syrians fled the invasion and over 100 thousand have been permanently displaced from their homes, farms, workplaces and livelihoods.

The industrial scale looting continues. As reported recently in the story headlined Turkish-backed factions take apart power pylons in rural Ras Al-Ain: “Reliable sources have informed SOHR that Turkish-backed factions steal electricity power towers and pylons in ‘Peace Spring’ areas in Ras Al-Ain countryside.”

Turkey now controls the border city of Ras al-Ain and the nearby Allouk water treatment and pumping station.  This is the water station supplying safe water to the city Hasaka and entire region. The Turkish forces are using water as a weapon of war, shutting down the station to pressure the population to be compliant.  For over two weeks in August, with daily temperatures of 100 F,  there was no running water for nearly one million people.

With no tap water, civilians were forced to queue up for hours to receive small amounts from water trucks. Unable to buy the water, other civilians took their chances by drinking water from unsafe wells. According to Judy Jacoub, a Syrian journalist originally from Hasaka, “The residents of Hasaka and its countryside have been pushed to rely on unsafe water sources ….Many residents have been suffering from the spread of fungi, germs and dirt in their hair and bodies as a result of using well water that is not suitable for drinking and personal hygiene. The people of Hasaka remain vulnerable to diseases and epidemics because of the high temperatures and spread of infectious diseases. If the situation is not controlled as soon as possible, the spread of Corona virus will undoubtedly be devastating.”  A hospital medical director says many people are getting sick from the contaminated water.

Judy Jacoub explains what has happened most recently: “After Syrian and international efforts exerted pressure on the Turkish regime, 17 wells and three pumps were started . The main reservoirs were filled and pumping was started toward the city neighborhoods.  However, despite the Turkish militia’s resumption of pumping water again, there is great fear among the citizens.”

USA Loots Syrian Oil and Plunders the Economy

The USA also has occupying troops and proxy/puppet military force in north east Syria. The proxy army is misnamed the “Syrian Democratic Forces” (SDF). How they got that name is revealing. They took on this name as they came under the funding and control of the US military. As documented here, US Army General Ray Thomas told their leadership, “You have got to change your brand. What do you want to call yourselves besides the YPG?’  Then, he explained what happened: “With about a day’s notice they declared that they are the Syrian Democratic Forces. I thought it was a stroke of brilliance to put democracy in there somewhere.”

There are numerous parties and trends within the Syrian Kurdish community. The US has been funding and promoting the secessionist element, pushing them to ally with Turkish backed  jihadists against the Damascus government.  The violation of Syrian sovereignty is extreme and grotesque.

Prior to the war, Syria was self-sufficient in oil and had enough to export and earn some foreign revenues. The primary oil sources are in eastern Syria, where the US troops and proxy forces have established bases. It is desert terrain with little population.

To finance their proxy army, the US has seized control of the major Syrian oil pumping wells. It is likely that President Trump thinks this is brilliant bold move – financing the invasion of Syria with Syrian oil.

In November 2019 President Trump said, “We’re keeping the oil… The oil is secure. We left troops behind only for the oil.”  Recently, it was revealed that a “Little known US firm secures deal for Syrian oil“. Delta Crescent Energy will manage and escalate the theft of Syrian oil.

What would Americans think if another country invaded the US via Mexico, set up bases in Texas, sponsored a secessionist militia, then seized Texas oil wells to finance it?  That is comparable to what the US is doing in Syria.

In addition to stealing Syria’s oil, the US is trying to prevent Syria from developing alternate sources. The “Caesar sanctions” on Syria threatens to punish any individual, company or country that invests or assists Syria to rebuild their war damaged country and especially in the oil and gas sector.

The US establishment seems to be doing everything it can to undermine the Syrian economy and damage the Syrian currency. Due to pressure on Lebanese banks, plus the Caesar sanctions, the Syrian pound has plummeted in value from 650 to 2150 to the US dollar in the past 10 months.

North east Syria is the breadbasket of the country with the richest wheat and grain fields. There are reports of US pressuring farmers to not sell their wheat crops to the Syrian government. One year ago, Nicholas Heras of the influential Center for New American Security argued “Assad needs access to cereal crops in northeast Syria to prevent a bread crisis in the areas of western Syria that he controls….Wheat is a weapon of great power in this next phase of the Syrian conflict.”   Now, it appears the US is following this strategy. Four months ago, in May 2020,  Syrian journalist Stephen Sahiounie reported, “Apache helicopters of the US occupation forces flew low Sunday morning, according to residents of the Adla village, in the Shaddadi countryside, south of Hasaka, as they dropped ‘thermal balloons, an incendiary weapon, causing the wheat fields to explode into flames while the hot dry winds fanned the raging fire.

After delivering their fiery pay-load, the helicopters flew close to homes in an aggressive manner, which caused residents and especially small children to fear for their lives.  The military maneuver was delivering a clear message: don’t sell your wheat to the Syrian government.”

To better loot the oil and plunder the Syria economy, in the past weeks the US is sending more heavy equipment and military hardware through the Kurdish region of Iraq.

In the south of Syria, the US has another base and occupation zone at the strategic Al Tanf border crossing. This is at the intersection of the borders of Syria, Iraq and Jordan. This is also the border crossing for the highway from Baghdad to Damascus. The US controls this border area to prevent Syrian reconstruction projects from Iraq or Iran. When Syrian troops have tried to get near there, they have been attacked on their own soil.

Meanwhile, international funds donated for “Syrian relief” are disproportionately sent to support and assist the last strong-hold of Al Qaeda terrorists in Idlib on the north west border with Turkey.  The US and its partners evidently want to sustain the armed opposition and prevent the Syrian government from reclaiming their territory.

Flouting International Law and the UN Charter

The USA and Turkey have shown how easy it is to violate international law. The occupation of Syrian land and attacks on its sovereignty are being done in broad daylight. But this is not just a legal issue. Stopping the supply of safe drinking water and burning wheat fields to create more hunger violate the most basic tenets of decency and morality.

With supreme hypocrisy, the US foreign policy establishment often complains about the decline in the “rule of law”. In actuality, there is no greater violator than the US itself.

In his speech to the UN Security Council,  Syrian Ambassador Ja’afari decried this situation saying “international law has become like the gentle lamb whose care is entrusted to a herd of wolves.”

• Author’s note: To see good political and military maps of Syria,  go to

Rick Sterling is an investigative journalist who has visited Syria several times since 2014. He lives in the SF Bay Area and can be reached at

September 17, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Russian Clouds Over Turkish-Backed Jihadi Paradise In Idlib

South Front | September 17, 2020

On September 16, hundreds of protesters gathered near those Turkish military positions in Greater Idlib, which are surrounded by the Syrian Army, demanding the full withdrawal of the Turkish Army from Syria.

The largest protests took place near Turkish observation posts at Murak and Alsurman. Both these posts were surrounded by Syrian troops during the military operation against Turkish-backed al-Qaeda terrorists in southern Idlib. A majority of the protesters who took part in the event were from the nearby towns and villages, including Murak, Alsurman and Tell Touqan.

In the best traditions of Turkish ‘democracy’, Turkish soldiers from the Murak observation post responded to the protesters with tear gas.

Later on the same day, the Turkish government claimed that the observation posts had become the target of provocations and even individual attacks fomented by the ‘Assad regime’. According to the Turkish side, Turkish forces successfully repelled the provocation.

Meanwhile, Russian-Turkish military consultations on the conflicts in Syria and Libya have been ongoing in Ankara. According to Russian state media, Moscow proposed that the Turkish military reduce the number of observation posts in Greater Idlib, but the proposal was rejected. Nonetheless, Russian state media reported, citing their own sources, that Turkey had agreed to reduce the number of troops deployed in Idlib.

Currently, Ankara has almost 10,000 troops and thousands of pieces of military equipment, including battle tanks and artillery, in northwestern Syria. If the media reports are true, the formal and widely-promoted withdrawal of a dozen Turkish military trucks with several dozen troops will not change the situation strategically. Ankara has repeatedly demonstrated that it is not interested in a real fight against terrorism in Syria and that it in fact uses Idlib terrorist groups to promote its own agenda. This posture could be changed only under the increasing pressure of circumstances and regular friendly reminders from Turkey’s ‘strategic partners’.

As one such reminder over the past few days, the Russian Aerospace Forces conducted more than a hundred airstrikes on infrastructure and positions of the Turkish-backed terrorists. These strikes started last weekend and as of the morning of September 17, it does not seem that they will be fully halted anytime soon. Clouds have once again gathered over the jihadi paradise, which is being created by the Erdogan government in northwestern Syria.

September 17, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , | Leave a comment

European Parliament calls for international probe into alleged Navalny poisoning & suspension of Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline

RT | September 17, 2020

The European Parliament has pushed to halt construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Germany and Russia, and for an international investigation into the alleged poisoning of Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny.

A resolution passed on Thursday called on European Union member states to “continue to isolate Russia in international forums,” encouraging the European Council “to prioritize the approval of the EU Magnitsky-style human rights sanctions” against what it called “the Russian regime.” The ‘Magnitsky’ sanctions are named after a Russian tax auditor, and associate of American-turned-British billionaire Bill Browder, who died in a Moscow prison in 2009.

532 MEPs voted for the resolution, 84 were against and 72 abstained. A total of 688 out of the registered 705 MEPs took part in the voting. It’s important to note that the measure is advisory and not legally binding, but rather intended as an advisory for EU governments.

The European Parliament also reiterated its “previous position to halt the Nord Stream 2 project.” This is a gas pipeline set to connect Germany directly to Russian energy supplies.

“It is necessary to immediately start an international investigation, with the participation of the EU, United Nations, Council of Europe and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons,” the resolution states. It names Alexey Navalny as “a leading Russian opposition politician, lawyer, blogger and anti-corruption activist” who has become “one of the few effective leaders of the Russian opposition.”

The vote on Thursday took place without a debate – there had been discussion on Tuesday in the parliament.

Earlier this month, European Commission President Charles Michel condemned “in the strongest possible terms the attempt to silence opposition leader (sic) Navalny.”

Sanctions against the Russian authorities have been rumored ever since news of Navalny’s alleged poisoning first broke. In late August, US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun explained that Washington was prepared to take strong measures against Moscow, which would make sanctions related to the 2016 US presidential election “pale in comparison.”

September 17, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia | | 1 Comment

Relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia in crisis

By Lucas Leiroz | September 17, 2020

In early August, the diplomatic crisis between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia increased considerably when Pakistani Chancellor Shah Mehmood Qureshi officially criticized the Arab country for its lack of support for Islamabad’s interests in the dispute with India over Kashmir. According to the Pakistani government, there should be greater cooperation between both countries due to the fact that they share religious ties, and this is not happening.

Qureshi recently said during an interview that Islamabad expects the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to convene a meeting soon to discuss the issue of Kashmir. Furthermore, he said that if the OIC does not convene such a meeting, Pakistan itself will be obliged to organize a meeting of Islamic countries in order to obtain support in the dispute for Kashmir. Qureshi’s words were immediately received by the Saudis as a threat of conspiracy against the OIC for the creation of a new bloc, led by Islamabad.

There are three countries that unconditionally support Pakistan on the issue of Kashmir, which are Turkey, Iran and Malaysia. These countries, in December 2019, met at the Kuala Lumpur Summit, where they discussed various topics related to the entire Islamic world. Since then, Saudi Arabia sees the alliance of these countries as a threat to its interests and to the role of hegemony it exercises over the OIC. So, if Pakistan convenes a meeting with such countries, a major step will be taken towards the creation of a new group of Islamic nations.

Qureshi’s comment was made to warn the Saudis, but the consequences were disastrous. Riyadh immediately refused to give a third of the 3 billion dollars loan it had granted Pakistan in 2018, and the 3.2 billion dollars oil credit line that was also part of the 2018 deal has not been renewed.

Until now, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have shared close ties, forming an important alliance in Asian geopolitics. Both countries have shared strategic ties of mutual interest for decades and on several occasions have supported each other diplomatically, economically and militarily. Examples of this shared interest can be seen in events such as the placement of Pakistani troops in the Saudi territory, joint military exercises, oil supply by Saudi Arabia amid sanctions on Pakistan due to its nuclear tests and several other cases of economic aid and diplomatic support.

But, occasionally, the interests of both countries have collided. There were reprisals after Pakistan’s refusal to send troops within the Saudi-led coalition in the 2015 Yemen war, for example. Interestingly, in Yemen Iran and Saudi Arabia face each other in a proxy war. Iran supports Pakistan in Kashmir, while the Saudis hesitate on this issue. Certainly, the cases are related, but that is not enough to explain the current crisis.

The geopolitics of the Islamic world is changing completely. The Arab countries’ peace agreements with Israel, mediated by the US, are becoming a strong trend. Saudi Arabia has already denied the possibility of entering into such an agreement, but the precedent set by Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates is significant and it is very likely that, over time, pro-Western Arab nations will gradually join peace with Israel. Such Arab nations have not changed their views on Palestine, but the current situation in the region has become too dangerous for them. These countries fear the advance of the Muslim Brotherhood supported by Turkey, which grew a lot in the Syrian War. And, above all, the rivalry with Iran cannot be ignored, especially when Tehran and Ankara progressively tighten their ties.

With Pakistan trying to get closer to the Kuala Lumpur Group – which includes Iran and Turkey – the tendency is for the Saudis to not only distance themselves increasingly from Islamabad, but also to carefully consider the possibility of joining peace with Israel, which, indeed, is the only condition for the kingdom to continue to receive the Western support it currently receives.

This “schism” in the Islamic world will be costly for Pakistan, which has always received great economic support from the Saudis. Currently, Saudi Arabia is home to around 2.5 million Pakistani expatriates, whose remittances contribute highly to Islamabad’s economy. Remittances abroad represent about 86% of Islamabad’s foreign reserves. Of these, 30% are inflows from the Saudi kingdom. In addition, Pakistan imports about a quarter of its oil from Saudi Arabia. In 2019, 74% of their bilateral trade, totaling 1.7 billion dollars, was due to oil imports. In addition, there are latent cultural issues. Saudi Arabia has in its territory the sacred sites of Mecca and Medina, where about 500,000 Pakistanis travel each year on pilgrimage.

However, economic and cultural issues tend to be overlooked when topics involve national security, defense and risks of war. A new bloc of Islamic nations is likely to emerge, rivaling the OIC, opposing Iran, Turkey and Pakistan against the Saudis. Interestingly, such a split will lead to an ethnicization of the geopolitics of the Islamic world, considering that Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and Malaysia are not Arab nations, and this may be another focus of tensions in the future.

Lucas Leiroz is a research fellow in international law at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

September 17, 2020 Posted by | Economics | , , | Leave a comment

Discrediting the Russian Vaccine: The Small Shady Deal of Big Politics

By Irina Alksnis – Sputnik – 17.09.2020

For the West, Russia’s leadership in the creation of a vaccine against the coronavirus has become not just an unpleasant surprise, but a shocking call-out, not only politically but financially as well.

On the one hand, ‘backward, deeply undemocratic Russia’ simply lacks the right to carry out such breakthroughs in complex scientific and technologically advanced fields. On the other, there is a jackpot at stake so astronomical in size that the mere idea that it might elude Western pharmaceutical giants is cause for heartburn. For example, think of what the news of an agreement between Moscow and Delhi on the supply of a hundred million doses of Sputnik-V to India alone is worth.

It’s not surprising that Russia has faced numerous attempts to discredit the results of the work of its scientists: big politics means big money.

However, next to the sharks one will always find sucker fish, who regularly get a snack from their masters’ dinner. That’s exactly what happened when the results of Sputnik-V testing were announced by The Lancet, one of the oldest and most prestigious medical journals in the world.

The article was torn apart by critics with lighting speed. The ‘loudest’ of these criticisms spread by world media was the open letter by Enrico Bucci, a biology professor at Temple University in Philadelphia, who expressed fears about the mistakes ‘possibly made by Russian researchers’. Bucci’s letter received the support of over two dozen other Western scientists.

The Lancet invited the developers of Sputnik-V to answer the questions they had, and this was done. The Gamaleya Center presented the publication with the full-length clinical protocol of its study of the Sputnik-V vaccine.

Kirill Dmitriev, the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, published a column in which he commented in detail on the main claims made by critics, while at the same time urging them to look out for the ‘plank in their own eyes’, and dispelling any doubts inside Russia itself about the ongoing developments.

Meanwhile, the problem in this case is not only a purely scientific one, on which the Russian researchers have focused.

The fact is that Dr. Bucci is himself a rather remarkable person. The BBC’s Russian service calls him a “famous fighter against pseudoscience”. However, it would be more appropriate to describe him as a “businessman representing science.”

In 2016, Bucci founded Resis Srl, a company specialising in the verification, fact-checking and validation of scientific papers. This is a trendy topic in modern science. Too often in recent years, researchers have been caught making mistakes, including major ones, in articles they’ve published. And it’s not necessarily a matter of abuses or fraud. Often it’s a matter of honest mistakes, which, when exposed, nevertheless affect the reputation of scientists and even entire scientific institutions.

It is precisely to avoid such problems that authors and research institutions often turn to firms like Bucci’s to carry out an independent audit of their texts before publication. For example, Bucci’s company was hired for this purpose by Germany’s Fritz Lipmann Institute, which was impacted by a major scandal some time back due to crude mistakes in its published materials. A detailed article on that scandal appeared in Nature in late 2019.

The subtle point worth noting here is that businesses like Bucci’s are obliged to follow certain ethical restrictions, something the professor knows perfectly well. In an article appearing in Nature in December 2019 which he coauthored, which is dedicated to integrity and conscientiousness in published work, it was honestly pointed out that people like Bucci have a conflict of interest. Simply put, when an owner of a commercial company speaks publicly about the activity in which he specialises, it essentially becomes an advertisement for his firm.

Of course, when it comes to ‘discrediting’ the Russian vaccine, such trifles are no longer important. Western countries used Bucci’s open (and by definition self-promoting) letter to ‘strike another blow against’ Russian scientists in the hopes of undermining or at least temporarily weakening their leading position. Meanwhile, the professor himself has received free PR of a scale and magnitude that he could not have even dreamed about under any other circumstances. This is called “riding the wave of hype”, and is a principle according to which hundreds of thousands of media personalities operate.

There’s no doubt that doing so will pay off for Bucci in the form of very attractive new commercial contracts. Catching hype in the troubled waters of big politics can be very profitable. But this has nothing to do with science generally, or medicine in particular, or the saving of hundreds of thousands of lives around the world.

September 17, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | Leave a comment