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American unilateralism & intervention is driving global instability, not Russian actions: Putin

RT | June 14, 2021

While Washington constantly talks of the need for international harmony, it has rarely played a positive role in it in recent years, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said, stressing that stability is vital in world politics.

Asked during an interview with NBC’s Keir Simmons, broadcast on Monday, whether he would support a call for predictability and stability from his US counterpart, Joe Biden, when the two leaders meet in Geneva on Wednesday, Putin said that it is the most important value… in international affairs.” However, he added, “on the part of our US partners, this is something that we haven’t seen in recent years.”

Simmons pointed out that Biden has previously accused Russia of causing “a lot of instability and unpredictability,” with Putin responding that Moscow is concerned about the impact of American foreign policy as well. The Russian president pointed to what he described as Washington’s role in destabilizing Libya in 2011, as well as across much of the Middle East.

Putin also said that, when he asked US officials about their views on Syria’s political trajectory in the event of President Bashar Assad’s departure from power, they said they had no clear picture of what might follow.

“If you don’t know what will happen next, why change what there is?” the Russian president asked, adding that Syria could “be a second Libya or another Afghanistan” if Washington and its allies had succeeded in removing Assad from power. Russia has supported the Syrian government in the conflict, following a request from Damascus in 2015.

Eventually, it is America’s unilateralism and Washington’s desire to impose its will on others that disrupts stability in the international arena, Putin claimed. “That’s not how stability is achieved,” he said, adding that only dialogue can ensure security and peace.

“Let us sit down together, talk, look for compromise solutions that are acceptable for all the parties. That is how stability is achieved,” the president urged.

Putin’s comments came ahead of his first meeting with Biden since the US leader took office in January. The Russian president has said that US-Russia relations are at their “lowest point in recent years” in the run-up to the summit.

Biden said he wants to use the session to help build a “stable and predictable relationship” with Moscow. Yet, at the G7 summit, held in England last week, he also insisted that the US “will respond in a robust and meaningful way” to any “harmful activities” by Russia.

June 14, 2021 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Palestine: Hamas Defeats Israel

THE SAKER • MAY 25, 2021

Just like in 2006, when both Ehud Olmert and George Bush declared that the “invincible IDF” had, yet again, achieved a “glorious victory” and the entire Middle-East almost died laughing hearing this ridiculous claim, today both the US and Israeli propaganda machine have declared another “glorious” victory for the “Jewish state of Israel” cum “sole democracy in the Middle-East”. And, just like in 2006, everybody in the region (and in Zone B) knows that the truth is that the Zionist entity suffered a huge, humiliated, defeat. Let’s try to unpack this.

First, a few numbers. The combat operations lasted two weeks. All other missile numbers are in dispute. Rather than trust this or that source, I will simply say that Hamas fired many thousands of missiles into Israel. Some, probably less than 50%, were truly intercepted by the Israeli air defenses, others hit in no man’s land, and some actually landed and caused plenty of destruction and at least 12 deaths. The Israelis executed hundreds of artillery and airstrikes causing massive destruction in the Gaza strip and killing about 250 Palestinians. Again, these numbers are guesstimates and they don’t really tell the full story. To understand the story, we need to forget about these numbers and look at what each side was hoping for and what each side achieved. Let’s begin with the Israelis:

The Israeli scorecard

To understand Israel’s goals in this war, we first need to place this latest war in its context, and that context is that Israel was comprehensively defeated in Syria. To substantiate this thesis, let’s remember the goals of the Zionists when they unleashed a major international war against Syria. These objectives, as listed in my July 2019 article “Debunking the Rumors About Russia Caving in to Israel” were:

The initial AngloZionist plan was to overthrow Assad and replace him with the Takfiri crazies (Daesh, al-Qaeda, al-Nusra, ISIS – call them whatever you want). Doing this would achieve the following goals:

  1. Bring down a strong secular Arab state along with its political structure, armed forces, and security services.
  2. Create total chaos and horror in Syria justifying the creation of a “security zone” by Israel not only in the Golan but further north.
  3. Trigger a civil war in Lebanon by unleashing the Takfiri crazies against Hezbollah.
  4. Let the Takfiris and Hezbollah bleed each other to death, then create a “security zone,” but this time in Lebanon.
  5. Prevent the creation of a Shia axis Iran-Iraq-Syria-Lebanon.
  6. Break up Syria along ethnic and religious lines.
  7. Create a Kurdistan which could then be used against Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran.
  8. Make it possible for Israel to become the uncontested power broker in the Middle-East and force the KSA, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, and all others to have to go to Israel for any gas or oil pipeline project.
  9. Gradually isolate, threaten, subvert, and eventually attack Iran with a broad regional coalition of forces.
  10. Eliminate all centers of Shia power in the Middle-East.

As we all know, this is what actually happened:

  1. The Syrian state has survived, and its armed and security forces are now far more capable than they were before the war started (remember how they almost lost the war initially? The Syrians bounced back while learning some very hard lessons. By all reports, they improved tremendously, while at critical moments Iran and Hezbollah were literally “plugging holes” in the Syrian frontlines and “extinguishing fires” on local flashpoints. Now the Syrians are doing a very good job of liberating large chunks of their country, including every single city in Syria).
  2. Not only is Syria stronger, but the Iranians and Hezbollah are all over the country now, which is driving the Israelis into a state of panic and rage.
  3. Lebanon is rock solid; even the latest Saudi attempt to kidnap Hariri is backfiring. (2021 update: in spite of the explosion in Beirut, Hezbollah is still in charge)
  4. Syria will remain unitary, and Kurdistan is not happening. Millions of displaced refugees are returning home.
  5. Israel and the US look like total idiots and, even worse, as losers with no credibility left.

Seeing their defeat in Syria, the Zionists did what they always do: they used their propaganda machine to list an apparently never-ending victorious strikes on supposed “Iranian targets” in Syria. While a few civilian simpletons with zero military experience did buy into this nonsense, the truth about Israeli operations in Syria is simple: the Syrian air defenses have successfully prevented the Israelis from striking at important, sensitive, targets, and the Israelis have been forced to declare as major victories the destruction of empty barns as “destruction of important IRGC headquarters” thereby “proving” to a few naive folks in Zone A and to themselves (!) that the IDF is still as “invincible” as it “always was”. As for the Neocons, they doubled-up on that and declared that 1) Russian air defenses are useless 2) that Russia and Israel work hand in hand and 3) that the Israelis are still invincible. Yet if any of that was true, why has Israel failed to achieve a single one of its goals? And why are both the Russians and the Iranians still in Syria where the Russians just finished a 2nd runway at Khmeimim and they have just deployed a group of Tu-22M3 at that air base from where they can now threaten any ship sailing in the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. In their otherwise “free time” they can drop tons of bombs and missiles on the remaining Takfiri forces in Syria.

As I have been saying for many years now, the truth is that the IDF is a poor fighting force. Why? First, they have the exact same problem as the USA (and the KSA, for that matter): they rely on expensive technology, but don’t have good combat-capable “boots on the ground”. That is now how modern wars are won (see here for a list of popular misconceptions about modern wars).

In its recent history, the entire gamut of Israeli “elite” forces (including the air force, the navy, the artillery and even the Golani Brigade) got its collective butt handed to them by about 1000 and only lightly armed regular Hezbollah fighters in 2006: keep in mind that the elite Hezbollah forces were deployed only north of the Litani river to protect Beirut against a possible land invasion by Israel. Instead of taking Beirut or “disarming Hezbollah” (that was an official goal!), the Israelis could not even control the small town of Bint Jbeil located right across the official Israeli border! So much for being “invincible”!

What the IDF is very experienced at is terrorising Palestinian civilians and executing what could be called a slow-motion genocide of the Palestinian people. The problem with Gaza now is the same that the failed invasion of Lebanon in 2006 has revealed: just like the Lebanese in 2006, the Palestinians of 2021 are not afraid of the Zionists anymore. Furthermore, with a great deal of help from Iran and others, Hamas in Gaza is now much, much better armed than in the past. True, some of its missiles are decidedly low tech and not very effective (low accuracy, small warheads, simple trajectory, limited range), but Hamas also has shown some pretty decent UAVs too. Most importantly, from now on for Hamas it is only one way: up the “quality ladder” (just like the Houthis did in Yemen, starting with modest drones but eventually getting very capable ones).

The other major goal of the Israelis in this war was to prove to the world (and, even more importantly for the always narcissistic self-worshipping Israeli cowards, to themselves!) that their “Iron Dome” air defense network was the “super-dooper most bestest” in the world (no doubt, due to the famed “Jewish genius”!). It now appears that at best, the Israelis intercepted somewhere around 30-40% of the Hamas missiles. The way the Israeli hid this is by claiming that their fancy shmancy Iron Drone did not even try to engage missiles which were not deemed dangerous. But in the age of the ubiquitous smartphone, that kind of silly nonsense can easily be debunked (including by showing the total chaos in the Israeli skies or, for that matter, the missile strikes on Israeli military objectives). While the full Iron Dome air defense system probably works marginally better than the quasi-useless US Patriot, the Israeli air defenses are clearly at least a generation behind the Russian ones, including the S-300s the Russians sold to Syria (again, in the age of of the ubiquitous smartphone, this is not hard to prove).

It is crucial to remember that Hamas’ missiles are much inferior to those of the Houthis and the Syrians, and even more inferior when compared to Hezbollah or Iranian drones and missiles! In other words, the “invincible” IDF can’t deal with even its weakest, least sophisticated enemies (Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad) and the grotesquely expensive Iron Done cannot protect the Zionists from any determined missile attacks by the Resistance coalition (Palestine, Yemen, Syria, Hezbollah, Iran and Russia).

In their utter despair, the Zionist entity did what the AngloZionists always do when they fail to defeat a military force: they will turn their wrath on the civilian infrastructure and murder as many as they can. They will also strike highly symbolic targets such as the International Press Center in Gaza or a Red Crescent hospital (under the pretext that Hamas, which is the democratically elected local government) has offices there (this is clearly a F-you to those who condemn Israel for violating international law). To a normal human being, this sounds both obscene and ridiculous. But remember, the Israelis are first and foremost narcissists and they have no means of imagining how normal human beings think or feel. All these guys can feel is self-worship and hatred for all “others”.

We could say that in this war, the Palestinians defeated both military high tech and truly medieval type of genocidal hatred.

In other words, far from showing how “invincible” the Zionist entity is, this latest war against the Palestinians has shown beyond reasonable doubt that the IDF cannot deal with any of its enemies.

Besides missiles and bombs, the Israelis love to use terror, as their ideology has convinced them of two things: the Arabs only understand force and we, the Israelis, are invincible. But this begs the question of why the Israelis did not dare to move into Gaza, not even symbolically. Yeah, I know, the official doxa of Zone A is that “Biden called Netanyahu and told him to stop”. As if “Biden” could give orders to the Israelis!

The truth is that even with a casualty rate of 10:1 in the IDF’s advantage and no armor or artillery, the Palestinians are much more willing to engage in street battles than the IDF. Would the IDF eventually win a ground battle against Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad? Maybe, probably, the objective advantages in everything (except courage!) for the Israelis is so huge that no amount of skills and courage can forever negate the immense superiority in means of the Israelis.

However, as most people in the West tend to forget, wars are but means towards a political goal. If the IDF decided to basically flatten Gaza and kill many thousands of Palestinians at the cost of casualties probably in the hundereds, then this would be politically suicidal for the Zionist regime. This is why I offer this very basic conclusion:

During the latest Gaza war, deterrence did work. But only in the sense that the Palestinians successfully deterred the Israelis from launching a ground attack against Gaza.

There is another crucial political development which should also be noted: while both Iran and Hezbollah did give their full political support to Hamas+Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the latter did not request any assistance. In other words, not only did the Palestinians defeat the Israelis, but they did so absolutely alone, with no help from the other Resistance members.

Again, those Zone A civilians who believe that Israel is scoring huge victories in Syria on a quasi daily basis won’t get it, which is par for the course. But you can be darn sure that at least most of the IDF top commanders know the true score and for them it is yet another huge disaster.

There is also a political factor to consider. While there have been coordination resistance actions by the Palestinians in Israel (proper, as defined by the UN), this is the first time when the Palestinians from Gaza, those from the Occupied Territories and those in “Israel” truly fought, if not side by side (yet!), then at least at the same time and in a common cause. This is a major political victory for Hamas+Palestinian Islamic Jihad and a major problem for Fatah and the Zionists. Now let’s look at the rest of the Palestinian scorecard:

The Palestinian scorecard:

Let’s start by the obvious one: the Palestinians were not defeated. This victory can be further subdivided in the following:

  • The Palestinian leadership has mostly physically survived, it still exists as a local authority. Plenty of Palestinians were murdered, but that did not affect the operational capabilities of the Palestinian forces (any more than the IDF succeeded in affecting Iranian operational capabilities in Syria).
  • The Palestinian leadership has also survived politically. It was not blamed by the “Palestinian street” for starting the war, nor was it blamed for how it executed it. As for Fatah, it is now, by all accounts, lost somewhere in a political no man’s land which, admittedly, it richly deserves for its incompetence, corruption and subservience to Israel and the USA.
  • Militarily speaking, the Palestinian missile strikes were not nearly as effective as, say, Hezbollah (nevermind Iranian!) strikes would have been, but, hey, they made huge progress and we can all rest assured that the Palestinians of Gaza will, sooner or later, catch up with the Houthis and, further down the road, maybe even Hezbollah.
  • By many accounts, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have made major political inroads into the Palestinian political scene outside Gaza. Even in spite of a truly immense hasbara effort by the Israelis, the international public opinion was blaming Israel for the orgy of violence.

It is interesting to note here that the famous Israeli journalist Gideon Levy has written an article for Ha’aretz entitled “Israeli Propaganda Isn’t Fooling Anyone – Except Israelis” which was further subtitled “’Hasbara’ is the Israeli euphemism for propaganda, and there are some things, said the late ambassador Yohanan Meroz, that are not ‘hasbarable.’ One of them is Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.” This is how Levy’s article began:

And propaganda shall cover for everything. We’ll say terrorism, we’ll shout anti-Semitism, we’ll scream delegitimation, we’ll cite the Holocaust; we’ll say Jewish state, gay-friendly, drip irrigation, cherry tomatoes, aid to Nepal, Nobel Prizes for Jews, look what’s happening in Syria, the only democracy, the greatest army. We’ll say the Palestinians are making unilateral moves, we’ll propose negotiations on the “settlement bloc borders,” we’ll demand recognition of a Jewish state and we’ll complain that “there’s no one to talk to.” We’ll wail that the whole world is against us and wants to destroy us, no less.

Now comes the best part: Levy wrote this on Jun. 4, 2015 and updated it on Apr. 10, 2018 – years before the current disaster! Since then, things have only gone south for the IDF and the Israelis in general. Just the blowback from the war in Syria is, for the IDF, a true disaster.

Of course, “Israel” is still worshipped and faithfully served by many ruling classes worldwide (that is one of the functions of the Empire, to enforce this), but that officially lauded Israel is viewed with disgust and revulsion on most of the planet. Hence the inevitable failure of the truly galactic PR effort to brainwash the regular people into believing that Israeli is a polyyanish country, a “place without people for a people without country”, etc. etc. etc. This “Ziolatry”, if you wish, was effective when the PLO was blowing up Jewish grade schools in Western Europe, but today it has lost almost all of its traction, especially amongst thinking people.

The sad and disgusting reality about the Zionist entity is truly coming out, seeping under the propaganda walls of the Empire, and slowly but inevitably resulting in a common reaction of outrage and utter disgust for what is nothing else but the last officially racist country on the planet, the only country with an open air concentration camp it surrounds on all sides, the only country which truly, openly and sincerely does not give a damn about international law or about the lives of non-Jews (while calling their own lives sacred, of course!). This is a state which constantly repeats the mantra about the supposedly “sacred” blood of Jews while, at the same time, committing a slow motion (but very real) genocide of the Palestinian people while using non-stop terrorist attacks against any country daring to defy the order of the latest, and hopefully last, wannabe “superior race” in human history. This is also why the “crime of crimes” for politically correct and successfully brainwashed people is to declare that Israel has no right to exist. This is such a major crimethink that I want to conclude by committing it right now and asking others to join me in this “crimethink”!

Israel has no right to exist whatsoever first and foremost because it is an artificial creation of West European imperialist powers. Second, it is a country which has always engaged in atrocities and massive violations of international laws and norms. Instead, Israel is based on a racist ideology which is, for all practical purpose, indistinguishable from Hitler’s Nazi ideology (both National Socialism and Zionism have the same roots in both time, space and culture, both being products of European secularism and nationalism). For these reasons, Israel, and the Zionist ideology which supports it, are both a clear and present danger for international peace and stability (for details on Zionism as an ideology and its toxicity, please see here). Furthermore, the only possible way for the Palestinian people to ever recover their land and their rights under international law is that the Zionist “regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time” (to quote the often mistranslated sentence by Ayatollah Komenei). By the way, this awareness also presupposes a clear understanding that the so-called “Two State Solution” (2SS) is an impossibility. Yes, I know, the 2SS is currently the only one under international law, but that is hardly surprising since the state of Israel was created with not only many of the trappings of “being an internationally recognized state” but also with the shameful complicity of the country which won WWII. There is one thing which Israel has in common with the so-called “Republic of Kosovo”: they will be the very first to be liberated as soon as the AngloZionist Empire finally crashes visibly (of course, it has already crashed, hence the many disastrous outcomes for the USA and Israel on the international scene, but that is still denied officially in Zone A and, of course, by the AngloZionist propaganda and those who pay attention to it.

In truth, there is only one true “solution” to this war: the so-called “One State Solution”, meaning that those who live in this land will get to choose their leaders and lifestyles according to the old “one person, one vote” principle. All other “solutions” simply perpetuate the current genocide!

As for those Jews who still want an ethnically pure state of Israel, they can either grow up and get real, or they can choose to colonize some other planet. As long as they don’t persecute local lifeforms, that might work. But if they do this will all happen again, over and over.

Conclusion: “Gaza” and the future of the Zionist entity

I want to end here with what I believe is a glance at the future (or lack thereof!) of Israel. The website Islamic World News Analysis Group (which I highly recommend!) recently posted what it claims to be a video of a new Iranian combat drone named “Gaza” described as so: “The Gaza drone, capable of carrying 13 bombs and 500 kilograms of equipment, as well as 35 hours of flight up to a radius of 2,000 kilometers, is capable of carrying out a variety of combat and intelligence operations. According to the published images, it seems that the Gaza drone uses the Rotary Bomb Launcher mechanism under its fuselage, which can carry up to 5 bombs. This is the first Iranian drone to use this mechanism. 8 bombs are also installed under the wings and in total this drone is capable of carrying 13 bombs”. Here is the footage of this new drone. Take a look for yourself and imagine what the next round of this campaign to liberate Palestine might look like.

May 26, 2021 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Butting Heads With China and Russia: American Diplomats Are Outclassed

By Philip Giraldi | Strategic Culture Foundation | May 13, 2021

With the exception of the impending departure of U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan, if it occurs, the White House seems to prefer to use aggression to deter adversaries rather than finesse. The recent exchanges between Secretary of State Tony Blinken and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at a meeting in Alaska demonstrate how Beijing has a clear view of its interests which Washington seems to lack. Blinken initiated the acrimonious exchange when he cited “deep concerns with actions by China, including in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan, cyber attacks on the United States, economic coercion toward our allies. Each of these actions threaten the rules-based order that maintains global stability. That’s why they’re not merely internal matters, and why we feel an obligation to raise these issues here today.” He then threatened “I said that the United States relationship with China will be competitive where it should be, collaborative where it can be, adversarial where it must be” before adding “I’m hearing deep satisfaction that the United States is back, that we’re reengaged with our allies and partners. I’m also hearing deep concern about some of the actions your government is taking.”

The Chinese Foreign Minister responded sharply, rejecting U.S. suggestions that it has a right to interfere in another country’s domestic policies, “I think we thought too well of the United States, we thought that the U.S. side will follow the necessary diplomatic protocols. The United States does not have the qualification to say that it wants to speak to China from a position of strength. We believe that it is important for the United States to change its own image, and to stop advancing its own democracy in the rest of the world.” Yi had a point. Ironically, most of the world believes that the U.S. represents a greater threat to genuine democracy than does either China or Russia.

In another more recent interview Blinken has accused the Chinese of acting “more aggressively abroad” while President Biden has claimed that Beijing has a plan to replace America as the world’s leading economic and military power. U.S. United Nations envoy Linda Thomas-Greenfield has also delivered the same message that Washington is preparing to take no prisoners, pledging to push back against what she called China’s “authoritarian agenda” through the various agencies that make up the UN bureaucracy. Indeed, the United States seems trapped in its own rhetoric, finding itself in the middle of a situation with China and Taiwan where warnings that Beijing is preparing to use force to recover its former province leave Washington with few options to support a de facto ally. Peter Beinart in a recent op-ed observes how the White House has been incrementally increasing its diplomatic ties with Taiwan even as it both declares itself “rock solid” on defending while also maintaining “strategic ambiguity.”

China understands its interests while the U.S. continues to be bewildered by Beijing’s successful building of trade alliances worldwide. Meanwhile Russian President Vladimir Putin, reputedly an excellent chess player, is able to think about genuine issues in three dimensions and is always at least four moves ahead of where Biden and his advisers are at any time. Biden public and video appearances frequently seem to be improvisations as he goes along guided by his teleprompter while Putin is able to explain issues clearly, apparently even in English.

A large part of Biden’s problem vis-à-vis both China and Russia is that he has inherited a U.S. Establishment view of foreign and national security policy options. It is based on three basic principles. First, that America is the only superpower and can either ignore or comfortably overcome the objections of other nations to what it is doing. Second, an all-powerful and fully resourced United States can apply “extreme pressure” to recalcitrant foreign governments and those regimes will eventually submit and comply with Washington’s wishes. And third, America has a widely accepted leadership role of the so-called “free world” which will mean that any decision made in Washington will immediately be endorsed by a large number of other nations, giving legitimacy to U.S. actions worldwide.

What Joe Biden actually thinks is, of course, unknown though he has a history of reflexively supporting an assertive and even belligerent foreign policy during his many years in Congress. Kamala Harris, who many believe will be succeeding Biden before too long, appears to have no definitive views at all beyond the usual Democratic Party cant of spreading “democracy” and being strong on Israel. That suggests that the real shaping of policy is coming from the apparatchik and donor levels in the party, to include the neocon-lite Zionist triumvirate at the State Department consisting of Tony Blinken, Wendy Sherman and Victoria Kagan as well as the upper-level bureaucracies at the Pentagon and intelligence agencies, which all support an assertive and also interventionist foreign policy to keep Americans “safe” while also increasing their budgets annually. Such thinking leaves little room for genuine national interests to surface.

Biden’s Secretary of State Tony Blinken is, for example, the perfect conformist bureaucrat, shaping his own views around established thinking and creating caveats to provide the Democratic Party leadership with some, though limited, options. Witness for example the current White House attitude towards Iran, which is regarded, along with Russia, as a permanent enemy of the United States. President Biden has expressed his interest in renegotiating a non-nuclear proliferation treaty with the Iranians, now being discussed by diplomats without direct contact in Austria. But Blinken undercuts that intention by wrapping the talks in with other issues that are intended to satisfy the Israelis and their friends in Congress that will make progress unlikely if not impossible. They include eliminating Iran’s alleged role as a regional trouble maker and also ending the ballistic missile development programs currently engaged in by the regime. The downside to all of this is that having a multilateral agreement to limit Iranian enhancement of uranium up to a bomb-making level is very much in the U.S. interest, but it appears to be secondary to other politically motivated side discussions which will derail the process.

A foreign and national security policy based on political dogma rather than genuine interests can obviously generate some disconnects, unlike in Russia or China, where redlines and national interests are clearly understood and acted upon. To cite yet another dangerous example of playing with fire that one is witnessing in Eastern Europe, the simple understanding that for Russia Belarus and Ukraine are frontline states that could pose existential threats to Moscow if they were to move closer to the west and join NATO appears to be lacking. The U.S. prefers to stand the question on its head and claims that the real issue is “spreading democracy,” which it is not. Policy makers in Washington might consider what Washington would likely do if Mexico and Canada were to be threatened with foreign interference that might bring about their joining a military alliance hostile to the United States.

The American Establishment-driven foreign policy thinking clearly has trouble in accommodating the obvious understanding that the U.S. actually becomes more vulnerable every time it interferes in China’s trade practices or gives the green light for alliances like NATO to expand. Expansion of the national security policy components often brings in another client state that rarely has anything whatsoever to contribute and which, on the contrary, becomes a burden, relying for their own security on overstretched American military resources. In return, the expansion itself guarantees that a hostile and genuinely threatened Russia will take steps of its own to counter what it sees as a potential grave threat to its own security and national identity.

Quite simply, America’s national security should dictate that the United States treat China as a competitor rather than an enemy while also disengaging from support and encouragement of Ukraine’s irredentist ambitions as quickly as possible. A recent shipment of offensive weapons to Kiev should become the last such initiative and speeches by American politicians pledging “unwavering support” for Ukraine should be considered unacceptable. Washington should meanwhile reject any clandestine attempts to overthrow Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus and make clear to Vladimir Putin that it will not support any NATO expansion into Eastern Europe, which admittedly was a pledge already made when the Soviet Union collapsed that was subsequently ignored by President Bill Clinton. Thanks to Bill, America is now obligated to defend not only Western Europe but also Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, North Macedonia, the Baltic States and tiny little Montenegro.

In short, United States engagement in complicated overseas quarrels should be limited to areas where genuine vital interests are at stake. In fact, by that standard one should begin to emphasize the security impact of the crisis on America’s southern border, which has a completely different genesis and is being driven by politics. As British statesman Lord Palmerston said in 1848 “We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.” The United States government would be very wise to be guided by that advice.

May 13, 2021 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Iran to leave Vienna by end of month if Biden doesn’t lift all sanctions

By Elijah J Magnier | Press TV | May 4, 2021

Iranian and Western delegations returned to their capitals after the third Vienna round, with optimism emanating from the statements of the gathered officials. Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi issued positive information about the US lifting sanctions on energy, economic sectors, shipping, freedom of transportation, banks, and on many Iranian personalities. The negotiations have reached a stage where the elaboration of complex texts is on the table. Also, there were talks about the US releasing more than 90 billion dollars withheld from Iranian funds and another 20 billion frozen in Iraq, South Korea and China from oil revenues. No details have been discussed so far about the interest on these funds held for many years due to US sanctions.

There was also talk of the possibility of exchanging Iranian prisoners held in America, who number 18, including 7 in critical health condition, and others of Iranian–Western double nationality holders (American and British) detained in Iran on charges of espionage. This is an old Iranian demand that Iran insists on ending everything in one single exchange.

However, after lifting sanctions against individuals and accepting all demands, the biggest problem lies in Iran’s request to ensure that the lifting of sanctions will be applied in a specific time frame. According to a particular pre-agreed timetable, Iran wants to ensure that all frozen funds will return to the Central Bank. Countries around the world will be allowed to deal with Iran in all sectors without intimidation.

Iran has never requested the return of diplomatic relations with the US, but rather the lifting of the sanctions that were imposed on it since 2015 and that President Barack Obama agreed to cancel. Moreover, Iran wants to lift all additional sanctions added by Donald Trump when the nuclear deal was torn apart in 2018.

Negotiations have reached a reasonable level, although Iran still refuses to communicate with the US directly because the US is no longer a partner in the JCPOA and that talks could blow up any time. The US flag was removed from the negotiating room at the request of Iran. The Iranian delegation stressed the need for the US delegates not to be present at the same hotel where the negotiations are taking place until the White House announces the end of all sanctions. This is when the US will become a JCPOA partner again.

An Iranian decision-maker in Iran said that “the Leader of the [Islamic] Revolution, [Ayatollah] Seyyed Ali Khamenei, will not give an unlimited time-space to negotiate in Vienna. This is the last month before the announcement of the clinical death of the JCPOA agreement if all Iranian conditions are not met.” The source asserts that “Iran will not accept the American evasiveness that called for easing the sanctions by lifting those related to the nuclear file and placing other sanctions related to Iran’s missile capability, the Revolutionary Guards (Islamic Revolution Guards Corps) and other sectors until a future negotiation to be established later. Either all sanctions are lifted, or no deal is reached because mid-solutions are not accepted.”

Many indications lead to the US intention to conclude the deal with Iran and honor its previous commitment signed in 2015. Israel is prepared for this move following Mossad director Yossi Cohen, National security advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat and other military and security high-ranking officers meeting with US officials. The Israelis failed to persuade the US to abandon the agreement with Iran.

The Biden administration considers the nuclear deal necessary to protect Israel by preventing Iran from reaching enrichment uranium to 90-percent purity level, which makes possessing an atomic bomb easy. Israel wishes to keep the harsh sanctions on Iran and strike its nuclear reactor.

Iran possesses the ballistic and precision missiles that enable it to strike back with a decisive blow to the US bases deployed in the Middle East in case of war. Furthermore, Iran can count on the strength of its allies deployed in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen, who can join the battlefield if needed. Therefore, waging war on Iran is not feasibly possible. That leaves the US with slim options: the best could be to honor its deal, lift the sanctions and make sure that Iran does not obtain military nuclear grade capability. This is Biden’s logic and approach to assure the security of Israel and the interests of the US. Iran has shown that it imposes its conditions on the US and treats it as an equal from strength because it has strong cards to play.

However, Israel cannot go to war with Iran alone and wants to drag in the US. Iran has shown that its strategic patience has been replaced by strategic deterrence. Multiple strikes manifested that, and missile messages exchanged in the Strait of Hormuz and the Red Sea. There were powerful indications that Iran will not be silent on any Israeli transgression. Furthermore, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented himself as an alternative power to the US in the Middle East and became a superpower, a missile landed close to the Dimona nuclear reactor. Therefore, there is no doubt that Israel can harass Iran in Syria by cyber warfare and assassinations. It is also accurate to say that Iran has the power to direct similar annoyance to Israel.

It is a crucial month to indicate in which direction the ship of negotiations between Iran and America will sail. It is in the interest of both parties to reach an agreement, but all indications indicate that Iran will not budge from its place and will hold its ground firmly before accepting the US back as a partner in the nuclear agreement. The ball is in Biden’s court now, and time is not on his side.

Elijah J Magnier is a veteran war correspondent and a Senior Political Risk Analyst with decades of experience covering the West Asian region.

May 4, 2021 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , | 1 Comment

Continuing the Story of the Hijacked Tanker and Frozen Funds

By Konstantin Asmolov – New Eastern Outlook – 04.05.2021

In early 2021, we wrote about the Iranian seizure of a South Korean tanker and how this precedent actually demonstrates a number of unresolved problems, most notably the problem of Iranian assets in South Korean banks intended to pay for Iranian crude oil imports and frozen because of US sanctions.

Recall:  Iran has repeatedly urged Seoul to address the $7 billion frozen in two South Korean banks as part of US sanctions after the Donald Trump administration pulled out of the landmark nuclear deal with Iran in 2018 and tightened sanctions against the Islamic Republic. On January 4, 2021, the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps seized the South Korean-flagged tanker MT Hankuk Chemi under the pretext of environmental pollution.

On January 10, 2021, a government delegation led by First Deputy Foreign Minister Choi Jong-gon arrived in Tehran. However, the parties were unable to reach any agreements. In fact, Choi called for the release of the tanker and demanded evidence of oil pollution in the waters of the Persian Gulf, which formally caused the tanker to be seized. In response, his interlocutor Abbas Araghchi said that the tanker was in the hands of an Iranian court, and that the development of bilateral relations can make sense only when the issue of frozen funds is resolved.

Araghchi openly stated that “the freezing of Iran’s foreign currency resources in Korea is more due to a lack of political will on the part of the Korean government than to US sanctions,” and called on Choi to work out a mechanism to resolve the issue. However, the Iranian side noted that the crew members were safe and in good shape.

Choi’s talks with Iran’s Central Bank Governor Abdel Nasser Hemmati and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif also proved fruitless. The minister reiterated the thesis that the executive branch does not interfere in matters that fall within the jurisdiction of the judiciary; and the bank recalled that the South Korean government had promised to resolve the issue a year and a half ago, but had done nothing.

Kamal Kharrazi, head of Iran’s Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, was even more blunt: “The two countries had good relations, but now, unfortunately, because the Korean government yielded to US pressure, Iranian assets worth $7 billion have been frozen in Korean banks, and it cannot even withdraw money to buy medicine“.

On January 12, during a briefing, Saeed Khatibzadeh of the Iranian Foreign Ministry expressed dissatisfaction with the measures taken by the ROK to solve the problem: the solution is delayed and Tehran is not satisfied. The Iranian side has indicated its position that the problem of frozen funds should be solved first, and the issue of the arrested tanker will be resolved in accordance with legal procedures.

As a result of Choi’s visit, the parties agreed on nothing but further negotiations, and Choi went to Qatar, where he appealed for assistance in freeing the South Korean tanker and its crew.

In mid-January it emerged that in order to “create a positive mood before negotiations with Iran,” South Korea withdrew its anti-piracy naval unit Cheonghae from the Strait of Hormuz. Iranian Ambassador Saeed Badamchi Shabestari allegedly once expressed displeasure to Seoul over the presence of South Korean troops in the Straits because they were actually part of an international contingent assembled by the United States to contain Iran, even though formally the unit is meant to fight regional piracy. It is a typical trick of South Korean foreign policy when US orders are de facto carried out, but de jure these actions are anything but the direct order. However, the Foreign Ministry of the ROK refused to confirm this movement of troops.

At the same time, there was a rumor that the Iranian party offered to use part of the frozen funds to pay off its outstanding UN membership dues. Although the amount is only $16,200,000, experts decided that the only the first step would be particularly difficult, and on January 19, the head of the Central Bank of Iran, in an interview with Bloomberg agency again noted that this is not the first time the authorities of the Republic of Korea promise to do everything possible, but in fact they continue to follow the US policy and rules.

The Korean party, on the other hand, has made certain hints that a change of power in the US could unblock the problem.

On January 21, Hemmati reported that some of the funds belonging to Iran, which are in foreign banks, have been unfrozen and are being used by the government.

On February 2, 2021, Iran agreed to release the entire crew of the hijacked tanker except for the captain. Seoul welcomed this decision, and “the parties agreed to continue mutual communication”. By this time everyone finally remembered that at the time of the seizure the ship was carrying not petroleum products, but ethyl alcohol, so it is unclear how the fact of pollution that became the reason for the arrest of the ship occurred at that time.

The next day, the ROK media reported that South Korea was finalizing negotiations with the US to use some of the frozen money to pay Iran’s outstanding US dues. Otherwise, South Korean experts believed that the decision was still related to the change of power in the US, because, first, Biden was going to deal with the restoration of alliances in general, and second, the Iranian issue, according to Southerners, will be solved differently than under Trump. Iran has been called upon to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in order to restore the 2015 nuclear agreement.

In addition, it was reported that South Korea increased the export of medicine to Iran for two months, which also contributed to the release of detainees.

On February 11, the first Korean sailor returned home, but some of the crew remained on the ship to provide management.

On February 23, in a statement issued by South Korean Foreign Ministry in response to the Iranian Foreign Ministry’s statement on reaching an agreement with the South, it was stated that Iranian assets could be unblocked after consultations with the United States. According to a report posted on the Iranian government’s website, the agreement was reached during the February 22 meeting between Hemmati, Governor of the Central Bank of Iran, and Yoo Jong-hyun, the ROK ambassador to Iran. The parties agreed on directions for the transfer of money, and the Central Bank of Iran has informed Seoul of the amount it wants to receive.  Then, according to Bloomberg, Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei told a news conference that South Korea would release $1 billion in frozen money as a first step toward resolving the issue, without giving further details on how it would be used.

However, on the same day, Feb. 23, State Department spokesman Ned Price noted that the US and the ROK could discuss the supposed release of Iranian funds, but the money had not yet been transferred. The ROK Foreign Ministry also stressed that American pressure was needed to unfreeze Iranian assets. Thus, Tehran’s claim of an agreement has been refuted.

On February 24, the foreign ministers of the ROK and Islamic Republic of Iran discussed the situation, and Jong Eui-young said that South Korea “is making sincere efforts to release frozen assets,” but recalled that the issue must be resolved in close cooperation with the United States. In response, the Governor of the Central Bank of Iran said that South Korea must pay Iran $1 billion, otherwise Tehran will initiate proceedings in international courts.

On February 25, a US Treasury Department official said that Washington agreed in principle to a partial transfer of Iranian assets to Switzerland, from where they can be sent to Iran under the so-called Swiss Agreement on Humanitarian Trade, the essence of which is that Swiss food, pharmaceutical and medical companies must have a reliable channel of payment to ensure payment for their exports to Iran. Actually, the aforementioned billion was going to be transferred to the purchase of drugs against coronavirus

The conservative media in the ROK accused Iran of diplomatic impoliteness and wishful thinking. However, the commonplace conclusion was that it was all Moon’s fault for failing everything: the government is only engaged in improving relations with the DPRK and cannot conduct skillful diplomacy with other countries.

On March 2, Ned Price said that the US would be willing to discuss with Iran the unblocking of its money in the ROK “to achieve the main goal of Iran’s denuclearization.” He was silent about where, when, and how this issue would be discussed.

On March 10, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken took an even tougher stance: until Iran meets its obligations under the nuclear deal, the US will not ease any sanctions, including the release of Iranian funds in South Korean banks. When asked whether it was true that some of the funds could be transferred, however, Blinken replied that “the report you referred to is simply wrong“. Korean conservative media and experts immediately noted that “Secretary Blinken’s principled approach to frozen Iranian funds is good news for Korean national interests. This allows Seoul to resist extortion, even while making every reasonable effort to cooperate with Tehran. It also sends a signal to North Korea that international sanctions will be strictly enforced, but may be eased if denuclearization agreements are respected.”

On March 16, the ROK and Iran held a video conference that formally focused on expanding bilateral humanitarian trade, and on March 17, Deputy Prime Minister and Treasury Secretary Hong Nam-gi spoke by phone with new US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, where the parties agreed to cooperate closely, including on the Iranian issue.

On April 2, 2021, a diplomatic source reported that the tanker would soon be released, and on April 5, Said Khatibzadeh of the Iranian Foreign Ministry added that the case was ending and the court decision would most likely be in favor of the South Korean side.

According to experts, this was related both to the upcoming visit to Iran of Prime Minister Jong Se-kyung and to the fact that 700,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine produced in Kazakhstan were delivered to Iran.

On the morning of April 9, Iran released the tanker and it left the port. On board were the captain and 12 crew members who had been released earlier but remained on the ship for maintenance purposes.

On April 11, Jeong Se-kyung left for Iran on a three-day visit. This visit was the first trip of a South Korean prime minister to Iran in 44 years, but it should be remembered that by this time it was already known that at the end of the visit Chong was resigning due to a set of domestic political problems. Therefore, despite the high status of the visit, its real significance was somewhat less than expected, and the visit did not end with anything serious. The sides agreed to expand humanitarian exchanges, including medical cooperation, and to create a special consultative body responsible for preparing economic cooperation projects after the possible resumption of the nuclear deal. The Iranian side again urged Seoul to unblock the money as soon as possible, which was responded to with further assurances that everything possible was being done and a call to prevent Iran from detaining foreign vessels in the future: “The freedom of navigation must be guaranteed.”

In general, during his stay in Iran, Jeong Se-kyung himself was particularly active trying to please Iran and even talked about the importance and profound spiritual significance of Ramadan. It turns out that he has said before that “this money is Iranian money and should be returned to the rightful owner. We have to find a way to return it quickly.” However, the author’s attempt to search for statements by the South Korean prime minister on this topic was unsuccessful. Jeong met with a number of dignitaries, including the speaker of parliament, but was unable to meet with President Rouhani “for various reasons, including the situation with Covid-19.”

And Iran’s First Vice President Jahangiri openly said, “We call on the Korean government to release Iran’s financial resources as soon as possible and solve the problems of recent years through practical compensatory measures.” The vice president regretted that the $1 billion transfer to Swiss banks for the purchase of a coronavirus vaccine did not materialize despite promises by Korean officials: the Korean banks’ actions severely damaged bilateral relations, as it deprived Iran of major foreign exchange resources to purchase medicines and medical equipment in a pandemic. As a result, the image of the ROK has been seriously damaged. There is hope that the situation will improve after Jeong Se-kyung’s visit.

Nevertheless, on April 12, a US State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, repeated in an interview with the Ryonhap news agency that the US position on sanctions against Iran remains unchanged. Until Iran goes back on the JCPOA, it won’t get its money back.

Thus, on the one hand, the story of the tanker hijack ended well enough, and the notion that the action had not an environmental but a political purpose was safely confirmed. On the other, Iran’s attempt to push for the return of the blocked funds in this way did not end with anything. Iran received some vaccines and other medical resources, but it was more of a handout than a victory. Finally, this situation shows well the level of independence of South Korean foreign policy on certain issues. Despite the fact that the South Korean leadership did not seem to mind solving the problem, at the first shout from the US in Seoul they stood at attention, not even trying to show displeasure about it. For the author, this is a rather important story that explains both why some countries periodically claim a “lack of sovereignty” in South Korea and the difference in South Korean foreign policy between the populist statements of Moon Jae-in and Co. and Seoul’s actual actions.

Konstantin Asmolov, PhD in History, is a leading research fellow at the Center for Korean Studies of the Institute of the Far East at the Russian Academy of Sciences.

May 4, 2021 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , | Leave a comment

Biden to uphold Western Sahara recognition for sake of Israel

Press TV – May 1, 2021

US President Joe Biden has reportedly decided to uphold the Trump administration’s controversial decision to recognize Morocco’s alleged sovereignty over Western Sahara.

The recognition came as part of a deal with the despotic North African country to normalize relations with the Israeli regime.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken informed Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita during a Friday phone call that the Biden administration would not, “for the time being,” reverse his predecessor’s pro-Israeli move in the waning days of his presidency, US-based Axios news website reported, citing “two sources familiar with the call.”

“The secretary welcomed Morocco’s steps to improve relations with Israel and noted the Morocco-Israel relationship will bring long-term benefits for both countries,” according to a readout of the call released by the State Department.

Responding to inquires about the issue during a Friday press briefing, State Department deputy spokesperson Jaline Porter tried to dodge the issue.

“When it comes to Western Sahara, we are consulting privately with parties on how to best halt the violence there… We would also talk about having the goal to achieve a lasting settlement,” she said.

Trump’s recognition of Western Sahara as part of Morocco reversed decades of Washington’s policy regarding the disputed territory. It was part of a wider agreement with Rabat’s ruler that included the renewal of diplomatic ties between the Israeli and the Moroccan regimes that triggered massive protests in Palestine and Morocco.

The US thus became the only Western country to recognize Morocco’s alleged sovereignty over Western Sahara, which was annexed by the Rabat regime in 1975 after the former colonial government of Spain surrendered control.

The report further revealed that 10 days ago Biden’s Middle East advisor Brett McGurk “spoke to Bourita and gave the impression that there would be no change in the US policy on Western Sahara.”

It report said both Morocco and Israel had become concerned that the Biden administration may reverse Trump’s contentious decision, solely intended to press more Arab dictatorships to recognize Israel.

Last December, Morocco became the fourth US-backed Arab kingdom to strike a deal aimed at establishing ties with Israel. The others were the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan.

The move sparked protests across the North African country, opposing the deal and expressing solidarity with the Palestinian cause while condemning the Israeli regime’s persisting atrocities against Palestine’s native population.

Later, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu invited Morocco’s King Mohammed VI to Tel Aviv in a “warm and friendly” phone conversation, agreeing to continue contacts in order to advance the normalization agreement.

Trump’s controversial decision, which contradicts UN resolutions on the issue, has been challenged by US lawmakers.

In February, half the US Senate signed a bipartisan letter led by Republican Jim Inhofe and senior Democrat Patrick Leahy calling on Biden to reverse Trump’s “illegitimate” decision.

“The abrupt decision by the previous administration on December 11, 2020, to officially recognize the Kingdom of Morocco’s illegitimate claims of sovereignty over Western Sahara was short-sighted, undermined decades of consistent US policy, and alienated a significant number of African nations,” the senators wrote.

“The Sahrawi people deserve the right to freely choose their own destiny. We hope that we can count on you to be a partner in this effort,” they added.

May 1, 2021 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment

Syria Regime Change Still on Western Agenda – Ex-Ambassador Peter Ford

By Finian Cunningham | Strategic Culture Foundation | April 30, 2021

The United States, Britain, and other NATO powers failed in their covert military efforts for regime change in Syria, thanks in large part to the principled intervention by Russia to defend its historic Arab ally. However, Peter Ford, the former British ambassador to Syria, contends that regime change is still very much a top priority for Western powers and their criminal agenda of reshaping the Middle East according to their imperial objectives. In the following interview, Ford explains how the Western tactic has now shifted to intensifying economic warfare in order to buckle the Syrian government led by President Assad. Nevertheless, the former British envoy envisages that the presidential election on May 26 will see Assad being resoundingly re-elected by a nation defiant towards Western aggression.

Peter Ford is a former British ambassador to Syria (2003-2006) who has publicly denounced Britain’s proxy-terror war for regime change in the Arab nation, along with other NATO accomplices. He is a seasoned diplomat having graduated in Arabic Studies from Oxford University and serving as an envoy in several Middle East countries. Ford has incurred the wrath of the British establishment for his outspoken truth-telling about their nefarious agenda in Syria. On the other hand, he has won the admiration of many people around the world for his courage and integrity. He is a recipient of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromising Integrity in Journalism.

Interview

Question: What do you make of the ruling last week by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to strip Syria of its member rights based on allegations that the Syrian government military forces have repeatedly used chemical weapons during the 10-year war? It seems that the OPCW has become extremely politicized by the United States and its Western allies. Do you see a lot of arm-twisting of member states by Western powers to produce OPCW sanctions against Syria?

Peter Ford: The Western powers are like dogs with an old bone on the subject of alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria. There is no meat on it but they continue to gnaw away. Why? Because the trope that “Assad gasses his own people” has become a cornerstone of the whole Western propaganda narrative on Syria. Without it, justifying the cruel economic war on Syria, largely through sanctions, would be harder to justify. And with military efforts at regime change having failed, economic warfare is now the last hope for the Western powers of destabilizing Syria enough to topple the government. For this strategy to work the Western powers are more than ready to undermine the credibility of the OPCW by abusing their ability to manipulate it in the Syrian context.

Question: The OPCW’s executive has been exposed in distorting its own reports for the objective of incriminating the Syrian government over alleged chemical weapons attacks. Do you think the OPCW has been turned into a lever to enable Western powers to harass Syria because these powers have been blocked by Russia and China from using the United Nations Security Council as a mechanism for aggression against Syria?

Peter Ford: The United States and the United Kingdom have not hesitated to ventriloquize the OPCW executive to get their way on Syria, stifling whistleblowing even where the cases of misreporting have been flagrant. As a former United Nations official myself, I can say that international organizations are nearly all controlled and used by the U.S./UK, with the Security Council thankfully the one arena where they are unable always to get their own way. This irks them considerably, leading them to go even further in exploiting and debasing agencies like the OPCW.

Question: Three months into a new administration in the United States under President Joe Biden, is there any discernible change in Washington’s policy towards Syria? You have stated publicly before that the whole war in Syria was a regime-change operation orchestrated by the U.S., Britain, France, and others. Is regime change in Syria still on the Western powers’ agenda?

Peter Ford: Regime change is very much still on the agenda. It cannot be openly avowed, of course, but how else to describe a policy of seeking a  “transition” under conditions that would guarantee removal of the present government? Those conditions include rigged elections and “justice” against “war criminals”. The economic warfare is as severe as anything that was waged against Iraq to bring Saddam down. It is blatant deceit to pretend this policy is not aimed at President Bashar al-Assad’s removal. Biden brings no change. If anything he is doubling down on the policy of his predecessor, without even the pretense of wanting out of Syria, holding on to sanctions, and deliberately hampering reconstruction.

Question: The United States still has troops illegally occupying parts of eastern Syria near the country’s oil fields, denying the Syrian state important resources for national reconstruction. You have described the American forces there as functioning like a “tripwire”. Could you expand on that concept?

Peter Ford: U.S. forces in occupied parts of Syria number around a thousand. The Syrian Arab Army could overrun these forces and their Kurdish allies in a matter of days. What stops them? The certain knowledge that any advance towards the American forces would trigger massive retaliation from the U.S. Air Force operating from its bases in the region. So the function of these U.S. forces is not to help “eradicate ISIS terror remnants” as implausibly claimed, but to serve as a tripwire and thereby deter Syrian forces from recovering territories that hold most of Syria’s oil and grain resources. Denial of these resources is key to bringing Syria to its knees via economic warfare.

Question: Could Biden step up the military intervention in Syria? Or is it more likely that the U.S. and its Western allies will pursue economic warfare through sanctions against Syria?

Peter Ford: It must be considered unlikely that the U.S. would put many more boots on the ground but many in the Pentagon are straining at the leash to bomb Syria at the slightest pretext. For the moment, the policy planners are counting on economic sanctions and are content to wait for the Syrian government to buckle.

Question: What are the strategic reasons for Western regime change in Syria?

Peter Ford: It’s a way of getting at Russia and Iran, essentially. A little thought experiment proves it. Imagine Assad suddenly said he was ready to get rid of the Russians and Iranians and complete America’s set of Arab powers in return for being left in power. Egypt’s Sadat did something similar in the late 1970s so it’s not unthinkable, and Assad was having tea with Britain’s Queen Elizabeth not so very long ago. Would the U.S. not then cast aside without a moment’s hesitation all the blather about democracy and human rights?

Question: How significant was Russia’s military intervention in the Syrian war in October 2015?

Peter Ford: It was a life-saver. Most people do not realize how close ISIS and other terrorist proxies were to grabbing control of Damascus. Naturally, the Western powers never like to acknowledge this awkward truth.

Question: France’s former Foreign Minister Roland Dumas remarked in a media interview back in 2013 how he was privately approached by British officials with a scheme for regime change in Syria two years before the war erupted in 2011. As a former British ambassador to Syria (2003-2006) can you recall noticing any such plot being considered?

Peter Ford: Planning for regime change in Syria only really began when the aftermath of the Iraq war went really sour and rather than blame themselves, the U.S./UK sought to deflect blame on to Syria. It accelerated after Britain’s Conservatives with their anti-Russian and anti-Iranian obsessions, and their support for Israel, came to power in 2010.

Question: Your principled and outspoken criticism of the British government’s involvement in the Syrian war has won you much respect around the world. Do you feel personally aggrieved by the malign conduct of Britain in Syria?

Peter Ford: I feel ashamed for my country’s actions. It really is quite shameful that we have been instrumental in causing suffering for millions of Syrians while hypocritically claiming we are doing it for their own good.

Question: Finally, Syria is holding presidential elections on May 26 in which incumbent Bashar al-Assad is running for re-election. The Western powers disparage Syria as an “undemocratic regime”. How do you view Syria’s polity? Is Assad likely to win re-election?

Peter Ford: Of course Assad will win and of course the Western powers will try to disparage his victory. But I can state with certainty that if you could offer the Conservative party in Britain a guarantee of achieving in the next general election anything anywhere near Assad’s genuine level of support, albeit some of it reluctant from a war-weary people, the Tories would bite your hand off for such an electoral gain. Much of the current Western propaganda effort against Syria is geared at trying to spoil Assad’s victory and deny it legitimacy. But inside Syria itself, the people will see the election as setting the seal on 10 years of struggle, and Assad will emerge strengthened as he faces the next phase in the Western war on Syria.

May 1, 2021 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Who Wags the Dog? Israel’s Friends in Washington Mean Constant War in the Middle East

By Philip Giraldi | Strategic Culture Foundation | April 22, 2021

Donald Trump, who was elected President of the United States in 2016, may have won due to voters attracted by his pledge to end many of the “stupid” wars that the American military was involved in worldwide. In the event, however, he ended no wars in spite of several attempts to withdraw from Afghanistan and Syria, and almost started new conflicts with cruise missile attacks and the assassination of an Iranian general. Trump was consistently outmaneuvered by his “experts” on the National Security Council and at the Pentagon, who insisted that it was too early to disengage from the Middle East and Central Asia, that America’s own national security would be threatened.

Trump did not have either the experience or the grit necessary to override his generals and national security team, so he deferred to their judgement. And as has been well documented he was under constant pressure to do Israel’s bidding in the region, which mandated a continued substantial US military presence to protect the Jewish state and to provide cover for the regular attacks staged by the Israelis against several of their neighbors. Motivated by the substantial political donations coming from multi-billionaires like casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, Trump conceded more to Israel than any previous president, recognizing Jerusalem as the country’s capital as well as Israeli annexation of the Syrian Golan Heights while also giving the green light to settlement expansion and eventual incorporation of all of the occupied West Bank into Greater Israel.

President Joe Biden has already indicated that he will if anything out-do Trump when it comes to favoring America’s persistent “ally” and “best friend” in the Middle East. Biden, who has declared himself to be a “Zionist,” is responding to the same lobbying and media power that Israel’s friends are able to assert over any US national government. In addition, his own Democratic Party in Congress is also the home of most of the federal government’s genuine Zionists, namely the numerous mostly Jewish legislators who have long dedicated themselves to advancing Israeli interests. Finally, Biden has chosen to surround himself with large numbers of Jewish appointed officials as his foreign policy and national security team, many of whom have close and enduring personal ties to Israel, to include service in the Israeli Army.

The new Secretary of Defense, former Lieutenant General Lloyd Austin has recently returned from a trip to Israel, where he confirmed one’s worst fears about the direction the Biden Administration is moving in. It was a first visit to Israel by a Biden Administration cabinet member. Austin met with his counterpart Benny Gantz and also with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, both of whom warned him that Israel considered renewal of any nuclear arms limitation agreement with Iran to be a threat, only delaying development of a weapon. As Bibi expressed it, “Iran has never given up its quest for nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them. I will never allow Iran to obtain the nuclear capability to carry out its genocidal goal of eliminating Israel.”

Austin responded by the usual two-step avoiding Israel’s expressed concerns, which might be considered a threat of an Israeli veto on Biden’s attempt to revert to the original 2015 JCPOA multilateral pact. He said that the Biden administration would continue to guarantee Israel’s “qualitative military edge” as an element in America’s “strong commitment to Israel and the Israeli people,” adding that “our bilateral relationship with Israel in particular is central to regional stability and security in the Middle East. During our meeting I reaffirmed to Minister Gantz our commitment to Israel is enduring and it is ironclad.”

Wrong answer general. The foreign policy of any country should be based on actual interests, not on political donations and effective lobbying, still less on what one reads in the Zionist mainstream media in the US. Netanyahu has stated that the Iran agreement is “fatally flawed” and has said recently that “History has taught us that deals like this, with extremist regimes like this, are worth nothing.” Israel, which uniquely has a secret nuclear arsenal in the Middle East, is one of the world’s leading violators of attempts to limit nuclear proliferation. It is also destabilizing to the entire Middle East region, an apartheid state – not a democracy – and its government is widely regarded as right-wing extremist. That Netanyahu should feel somehow empowered to talk down to the Iranians, and to the US, remains a mystery.

Beyond what goes on between Washington and Jerusalem, the real center of power, the Israel Lobby, consists of a large number of separate organizations that act collectively to advance Israeli interests. There is considerable corruption in the process, with cooperative congressmen being rewarded while those who resist are targeted for replacement. Much of the legwork on subverting Capitol Hill and the White House is done by foundations, which often pretend to be educational to obtain tax exempt status. “Experts” from the various pro-Israel groups are then seeded into the decision-making process of the federal government, serving as gatekeepers to prevent consideration of any legislation that might be objected to by Netanyahu.

One of the most active lobbying groups is the so-called Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) which is in fact closely tied to and takes direction from the Israeli Embassy in Washington. FDD is particularly focused on going to war with Iran and whenever there are discussions on Iran policy on Capitol Hill one can be sure that an FDD expert will be present and active.

And if you really want to know why America’s foreign policy has been so self-destructive, it has recently been learned that FDD was actually able to insert one of its employees into the National Security Council under Donald Trump. According to a report on Bloomberg, Richard Goldberg, an outspoken anti-Iran hawk and former associate of John Bolton, is leaving the council and would be returning “to [the Foundation for Defense of Democracies], which continued to pay his salary during his time on the National Security Council.”

The NSC exists to provide the president with the best possible intelligence and analysis available for dealing with problem areas, something that Goldberg, due to his conflict of interest, would have been unlikely to provide, particularly as he was still on the FDD payroll and was also being given generous travel expenses while working for the government. Whether he was also being paid by the NSC, which is referred to as “double dipping,” is not known. In any event, there is something very wrong about the appointment of a paid partisan who seeks war with a particular country to a vital national security position where objectivity is an imperative. Ned Price, former special assistant to President Obama on national security, commented “… we now know a White House point person on Iran policy was receiving a salary from and remained employed by an organization that has put forward some of the most extreme and dangerous pro-regime change policies.”

So Biden, like presidents before him, is caught in the trap between an extremist-dominated Israel itself and its demonic prime minister on one side and the all-powerful domestic Israel Lobby on the other. Unfortunately, one cannot expect the United States to get out from under the Israeli thumb no matter whom is elected president.

April 22, 2021 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , | 4 Comments

OPCW ignores critics of its cover-up, imposes sanctions on Syria

By Robert Inlakesh – Press TV – April 22, 2021

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has revoked Syria’s privileges at the agency, accusing it of repeatedly using chemical weapons during the civil war, yet refuses to properly address complaints of a cover-up by the organization over their sole on-the-ground investigation of any such attack.

On April 7, 2018, an alleged chemical weapons attack was reported from inside Douma, Syria, according to reports on the ground. Days later, the US, the UK, and France bombarded Syria in “response,” without any clarification that any such attack had taken place.

The significance of the alleged Douma attack was not only that it led to Western airstrikes on Syria, but also that it was the first alleged chemical attack that the OPCW had sent an on-the-ground team to investigate.

Despite the OPCW now concluding that there was a chemical attack that took place, the leaked ‘original report’ put together on the incident reveals that the studies conducted had found no evidence of a chemical attack using chlorine gas.

Two whistleblowers also spoke out from inside the OPCW, creating greater doubt about the credibility of the OPCW’s publicly stated conclusions. A leaked engineering assessment, conducted by the OPCW, on the two gas cylinders found at the site of the alleged Douma attack interestingly found that the evidence had been tampered with.

The first head of the OPCW, Jose Bustani, has also applied pressure and challenged the way the organization has handled the reporting, along with experts in the field such as Theodore Postol, an award-winning professor of Science, Technology and National Security Policy at MIT.

Recently, award-winning investigative journalist Aaron Mate addressed a United Nations Security Council panel, laying out a detailed analysis — which he says casts doubts over the OPCW’s current position — on whether there was a chlorine gas attack in Douma. When, at the end of the meeting, it came time for the representatives from both the US and UK to answer a direct question posed to them by Mate, they had already left the meeting.

An EU lawmaker, Mick Wallace, was also attacked as having repeated “fake news” when he questioned the OPCW Director-General Fernando Arias and said the following: “Why will you not heed calls from renowned international figures… to meet with all the investigators?” He went on to state, “This problem is not going away. Are you going to investigate all aspects in a transparent manner?”

It’s safe to say that there are large question marks surrounding the OPCW’s findings, but what of those “moderate rebels” in Syria claiming to have witnessed a massacre of Syrian civilians with chlorine gas?

The allegations of a Douma chemical weapons attack came from within territory held by a Saudi-backed extremist group, Jaish al-Islam. The terrorist organization, described as “moderate rebels” by Western media outlets, had a track record of placing Syrian civilians — men women and children — in cages outside of areas where militants were stationed in order to deter airstrikes from the Syrian government and its allies. The group also had been accused of starving and brutally executing Syrian civilians, on top of shelling civilian neighborhoods under Syrian government control and filming themselves opening fire upon civilian airliners.

At the time of the reported chlorine gas attack, it was clear that the Syrian government and their allies were on the verge of taking the rest of “rebel”-held Eastern Ghouta. The claims of a chemical weapons attack directly caused Western airstrikes, as happened just a year prior when a supposed chemical weapons attack also occurred in an area known as Khan Sheikhoun.

There was clearly a motive for the extremist organization, Jaish al-Islam, to claim that such an attack occurred in Douma, especially as they were losing the battle against government forces. In the case of the Syrian government, there would be no reason to risk committing such an atrocious crime when they were days away from complete victory, inviting Western airstrikes. This was simple to see, with the most elementary-level understanding of the Syrian war, yet these types of common sense arguments weren’t even taken into consideration by the international community.

Now, after ignoring all the credible critics, from journalists to EU lawmakers and whistleblowers to the ex-director general of the OPCW itself, the organization sees fit to impose sanctions on Syria for committing chemical attacks. Interestingly enough, they note multiple attacks as their justification and not just the Douma attack, and when pushed on it, the director general pointed to human rights reports to support his argument.

It is clear that the OPCW has taken a serious blow to its credibility and has decided to back Western imperialism over the truth, a shameful decision that serves as part of the justifications provided for the West applying its murderous sanctions on Syria.

Robert Inlakesh is a journalist, writer, and political analyst. He has lived in and reported from the occupied West Bank. He has written for publications such as Mint Press, Mondoweiss, MEMO, and various other outlets. He specializes in analysis of the Middle East, in particular Palestine-Israel matters. He also works for Press TV as a Europe correspondent.

April 22, 2021 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , | 1 Comment

The Iranian Nuclear Program and the Current International Agenda

By Viktor Mikhin – New Eastern Outlook – 22.04.2021

Iran began enriching 60 percent uranium at its plant in Natanz a few days after the explosion that occurred at the facility – something for which Tehran legitimately laid the blame on Israel. “Our response to the anger of our enemies,” stressed President Hassan Rouhani, “is to replace the damaged centrifuges with more advanced ones, thereby activating 1,000 cutting-edge centrifuges, and there will be an increase in the level of enrichment of up to 60% at the Natanz Nuclear Power Plant”.

The International Atomic Energy Agency stated that it had been informed of the decision by the Iranian authorities. For its part, Washington pedantically called Iran’s statement “provocative”, and said that the US administration was allegedly concerned, adding that this casts doubt on Tehran’s seriousness in its negotiations on the nuclear program.

At the same time, US President Joe Biden has repeatedly stated that he wants to return to the deal, but Iran apparently “must terminate its violations”. This caused the European Union to call for negotiations to hopefully accomplish precisely this. Although the American delegation has a presence in Vienna, it does not meet directly with the Iranian one, but rather with diplomats from other countries that shuttle between them. Entering the negotiations – which have just begun – Iran said that it is ready to return to fully complying with the agreement, but that the United States will first have to repeal all the sanctions that it imposed under Donald Trump. However, this is fairly difficult, since the previous administration added sanctions on Iran that went beyond the boundaries of those related to its nuclear program, including those imposed due to accusations of terrorism, human rights violations, and the country’s ballistic missile program.

But there still are glimmers of hope. According to Aniseh Bassiri Tabrizi, an Iranian scholar at the Britain’s Royal United Services Institute, the negotiations quickly passed by the “Who makes the first move?” debate, and began to address specific issues. “It’s a very good development that these work groups exist that really do talk about and examine the nitty-gritty,” she told the Associated Press. For Iran to return to the deal, among other things it must return to enriching uranium to no more than a 3.67% level of purity, stop using advanced centrifuges, and drastically reduce the quantity of its enriched uranium. Despite the challenges, Tabrizi said that “the challenge ahead is not as difficult as the one the group faced in 2015, since there is already a deal in place”.

Although negotiations have just begun, the question has arisen as to how long they will last. There is no specific time frame. The diplomats involved in the talks say these issues cannot be resolved overnight, but several reasons exist why they hope that they will be resolved in a matter of weeks, not months. The initial deal was agreed upon after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, widely known as a moderate politician, first took office. Rouhani is unable to run again in the upcoming June elections due to term limit restrictions, and he hopes to be able to step down during a time when Iran can again sell oil abroad and gain access to international financial markets.

Meanwhile, the US could face much more difficult negotiations if it doesn’t strike a deal before Rouhani leaves. Hardliners in Iran reject the nuclear deal, saying it hasn’t brought enough economic assistance, and is a slippery slope leading to increasing pressure on the country. This does not necessarily mean they will stop the negotiations if they are elected, although that will complicate matters, said Sanam Vakil, deputy director of the Chatham House Policy Institute’s Middle East North Africa Program.

There is another reason to take action quickly: In February, Iran began curtailing International Atomic Energy Agency inspections at its nuclear facilities. Instead, it was announced that surveillance footage of the facilities would be retained for three months, and then transferred over to the IAEA if the Iranians gain some relief from the sanctions. Otherwise, Iranian scientists will erase all records and, quite possibly, the IAEA will face new obstacles to visiting Iran and monitoring its nuclear program.

Although it must be acknowledged that there are many other difficulties and obstacles. The Natanz nuclear facility has just been targeted with subversive activity, which the Iranian authorities have called sabotage. Many with good reason suspect that the attack was carried out by Israel, which opposes the nuclear deal, although the Israeli authorities are somehow trying to avoid the question of commenting on that. The lion’s share of Iran’s work at the Natanz plant has gone to waste, with many Israeli media reporting gloatingly. According to their assessments, the Iranian regime is now being dealt one blow after another, which indicates its inability to protect even its important nuclear facilities, but it will definitely seek to exact revenge when it can. Lieutenant Colonel Michael Segall, a strategic affairs expert specializing in Iran, terrorism, and the Middle East who is a senior analyst at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, noted that talks between the United States and Iran on bringing the Islamic Republic back to a nuclear deal “triggered many recent events, and the latest actions taken by Israel”. This is not the first time that the centrifuges in Natanz have suffered some kind of destruction. “I’m not sure how many of the cascades that keep the uranium enrichment centrifuges in place have been destroyed, and it’s unclear what happened, but when a cascade breaks down that spells years of work going down the drain,” Segall said.

Prior to that, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced that Iran had begun testing new IR-9 centrifuges, which enrich uranium 50 times faster than first-generation IR-1 centrifuges. That same day, Iran reported that 164 IR-6 centrifuges were started up at Natanz that enrich uranium 10 times faster than the IR-1 centrifuges. Incidentally, the 2015 nuclear deal restricts Iran to using only IR-1 centrifuges. After that, Natanz suffered a mysterious power outage that followed reports of an explosion. The well-informed (from what source?!) New York Times newspaper immediately reported that the incident would halt production at the plant for at least nine months. The IR-9 centrifuges have really cut down on the time frames needed for enrichment, and this decreases what used to take days down to a few hours. A power outage without backup power could lead to serious damage if the cascades are thrown out of position, said Israeli specialist Segall.

Iran strongly believes that Israel clearly hopes to disrupt negotiations by using sabotage. Rouhani stated he still hopes the talks will work, but the latest attack has made matters more complex. First, Iran responded by announcing that it would increase its uranium enrichment activities to reach a 60% purity level – one much higher than ever before, and install more advanced centrifuges at the Natanz plant. And following how these events unfolded, both sides ratcheted up their rhetoric and propaganda. In particular, the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters in the country, rejected all proposals that have been considered so far in Vienna as “not worthy of attention”. At the same time, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that Washington has demonstrated its commitment by participating in indirect talks in Vienna, but with Tehran’s recent statements “it remains to be seen whether Iran shares the seriousness of this objective”. The US is very serious about its “provocative” announcement on intending to start enriching uranium up to 60 percent, Blinken said at a press conference held at NATO headquarters in Brussels, referring to Iran. European countries participating in the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal – and unquestioningly fulfilling the will of their overlord – also told Tehran that this step allegedly contradicts their efforts to revive the agreement, one from which, it is worth reiterating, the United States withdrew.

Meanwhile, at the nuclear talks in Vienna, as evidenced by the facts, Washington has so far demonstrated a rather decisive, uncompromising, and crass position. The American delegation was headed by the US Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley – a man, as American media outlets note, who is little inclined toward negotiations or flexibility in his thinking. But Iran, for its part, “very strongly” insists that all sanctions be lifted before it reverses its moves in the nuclear power industry. Incidentally, there is a well-organized division of labor in the Iranian government, with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reflecting the firm position taken by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and President Hassan Rouhani sometimes adopting a more optimistic tone about the possible outcome of the negotiations.

It is quite apparent that the Iranians’ idea is that all sanctions should be lifted, even those related to non-nuclear issues like accusations of supporting terrorism. Verification is very important from the Iranian perspective – first of all, Iran wants to make sure that the sanctions are lifted, and only then will it reverse its latest measures, including in installing the advanced IR-9 centrifuges. It should not be forgotten that Iran is supposed to stop sharing video footage of its nuclear facilities with the IAEA in six weeks, a move that followed Tehran terminating its live video feeds as part of its ever-escalating series of moves in the nuclear power industry to exert pressure on the negotiations. But the reality is that everything will basically depend only on the reasonable measures taken by the Joe Biden administration – if any of those will originate from the White House.

April 22, 2021 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , | Leave a comment

Latest Skirmish with Syria Shows Israel Is Much Weaker Than It Looks

By Eric Striker | National Justice | April 22, 2021

For years Israel’s Arab neighbors have grown accustomed to routine unprovoked attacks on their infrastructure, soldiers and civilians by the Jewish state.

While Syria’s air defense has been increasing its success rate in quashing Israeli raids, the latest exchange between the two countries has opened up the possibility to strike back.

Yesterday, a missile bypassed Israel’s Patriot, Iron Dome and David’s Sling missile defense systems and landed close to the delicate Dimona nuclear reactor in its Southern desert, triggering panic in the city when its alarm went off. The Dimona nuclear facility is highly secretive as it is used to produce Israel’s illegal nuclear weapons.

A press release by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) made no specific mention of this, which is unusual. The Israeli military is claiming that the projectile was an errant Syrian surface to air missile intended for Israeli jets, but this is difficult to believe as it flew across half of Israel from far away Damascus.

For Israel’s rivals, the American tax payer funded Iron Dome system has been a psychological barrier to punching Israel back. While Hamas has in the past been able to get small rockets through the system, the goal in these attacks has always been to waste Israel’s money (Iron Dome missiles cost $100,000 each) rather than attack strategic targets.

Accidental or not, Wednesday’s lapse in Israel’s defense, near its nuclear facility no less, shows that it is very vulnerable to rapidly advancing Iranian and possibly even Russian technology that has found its way into Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah’s hands.

Just days ago, Israeli military officials raised alarms about the Iron Dome system potentially being junk. According to retired Colonel Yossi Langotsky, the Iron Dome would not be able to intercept Hezbollah rockets launched into Israeli territory with consistency.

There is strong circumstantial evidence to suggest Iranian involvement. Last week, Iranian military analyst Sadollah Zarei suggested that any Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities should be met with retaliation against their Dimona reactor. Landing a missile 30 kilometers from Dimona could be a message to Jewish leadership that they are serious.

The Israeli military also announced in recent weeks that it was rushing defense resources to Dimona due to fears that the Iranians could hit the nuclear base as revenge for the brazen assassination campaign against their scientists. This, like their Syria story, also seems like a lie, as the Iranians and Syrians know that triggering a nuclear catastrophe in Israel would be automatic grounds for a full war not just with Israel, but the United States. The more plausible scenario is that Israel wanted the Iranians to believe that, if ever tested, the defense of its vital infrastructure is impenetrable so that they can keep bombing Iranian power plants on the table without risking mutual consequences.

None of the players involved have an interest to tell us what really happened yesterday. Whatever the exact details are, Israeli homeland defense has been exposed as a paper tiger.

As Russia and China begin overshadowing the United States and Western Europe on the world stage, Iran is able to assert its interests in spite of what Jews in Washington and Jerusalem think. The era of uncontested Israeli hegemony is coming to an end.

April 22, 2021 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , | 3 Comments

Vienna talks reveal Biden team’s attachment to sanctions that would torpedo Iran deal

BY GARETH PORTER · THE GRAYZONE · APRIL 18, 2021

Biden’s foreign policy team refuses to relieve Iran from sanctions illegally imposed by the Trump administration, setting the stage for the collapse of negotiations and a major crisis.

The Biden administration signaled once again at the April 9 Vienna meeting on the Iran nuclear deal that it intends to maintain Trump-era Iran sanctions in an effort to win political and military concessions going well beyond the original deal itself. Team Biden continued to insist during the conference that Iran return to full compliance with the nuclear agreement without any reciprocal US commitment to remove the sanctions President Donald Trump imposed after abandoning the agreement in 2018.

The Biden administration’s stance on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) has already provoked a forceful response from Iran. Rather than enriching uranium at the 20 percent level that was used before Washington began making its new demands, Tehran has begun enriching to 60 percent purity.

In a video press conference with journalists after the first round of the “Joint Commission” of the JCPOA in Vienna, an unnamed “senior official” implied that the Biden administration intends to maintain sanctions on Iran, framing them as necessary political leverage. The unnamed US official also griped about “repeated statements by Iranians that all sanctions imposed since 2017 have to be lifted.”

Asserting the Biden administration’s position on the JCPOA, the official stated: “[U]nder the deal the US retains the right to impose sanctions for non-nuclear reasons, whether it’s terrorism or human rights violations or interference with our elections, et cetera.”

The official added, “[A]ll sanctions that are inconsistent with the JCPOA and inconsistent with the benefits that Iran expects from the JCPOA, we are prepared to lift. That does not mean all of them, because there are some that are legitimate.”

However, the official refused to clarify just how the Biden administration distinguishes between “legitimate” and “illegitimate” sanctions. The Biden administration’s deliberate ambiguity on that central point strongly suggests a determination to force Iran into making concessions on issues which happen to be Israeli priorities: lengthening the sunset dates of Iran’s key JCPOA obligations as well as imposing limits on its ballistic missile program and regional alliances.

Abbas Araghchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister for political affairs, has made it clear that Iran will not bend to the Biden administration’s diplomatic coercion. Just before the Vienna meeting, he said, “The US should remove … all sanctions that were reimposed after Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA or newly imposed or relabeled … and then we [will] verify and return to our commitments.”

Further evidence of the obdurate US strategy came in the form of comments made by Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a March 3 interview with PBS Newshour. While crediting the JCPOA with having “put Iran’s nuclear program in a box,” Blinken ignored the fact that the agreement had resulted from Tehran’s acceptance of limits on its nuclear program for several years in return for the removal of US and UN sanctions.

Blinken even framed the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal as though it were a consensus US policy rather than an extremist policy that Biden himself had attacked.

“When we pulled out of the nuclear agreement,” he said, “Iran then started to break out from that box. And it is now in a position where it is closer to having the ability to produce fissile material for a nuclear weapon on short order, in a matter of months.”

Blinken emphasized that the Biden administration has “a real interest in trying to put Iran back into that box.” Yet he downplayed the role of sanctions relief in returning to the original JCPOA. “We have been very clear that Iran has to come back into compliance with its obligations under the nuclear agreement,” he stated. “And if it does, we will do the same thing… that would involve, if they do it, some sanctions relief.”

The Biden strategy of coercion as outlined by both the anonymous senior US official and Blinken is entirely consistent with multiple indications of the Biden team’s intentions signaled well before Biden’s electoral victory.

The Biden administration saw an opportunity to exploit diplomatic coercion on Iran because Trump, responding to pressures from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and major pro-Israel Trump donors, had abandoned the nuclear agreement and embarked on what his administration called a “maximum pressure” campaign. Trump announced the US withdrawal from the JCPOA on May 8, 2018, then declared the reinstatement of all US sanctions on Iran that had been removed under the 2015 deal.

In making that decision public, the Trump administration highlighted the secondary sanctions against countries that had imported Iranian oil — but also gave waivers for six months to eight countries it said had already reduced their imports from Iran significantly.

The Trump administration was merely continuing a technique for attacking the Iranian economy that had been pioneered by Obama-era Under Secretary of Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Stuart Levey. The key to his strategy, Levey explained in Congressional testimony in 2010, was to focus on “illicit conduct” by Iran, such as Iran’s missile program or its alleged support for terrorism, in order to “maximize the chances of achieving a truly multinational coalition” for breaking or avoiding economic ties with Iran.

Levey identified UN Security Council Resolution 1929, adopted in 2010, which calls a wide range of actions by member states against Iran over nuclear and missile activity, as crucial to his approach.  He sought to exploit the fear of foreign companies that their investment in Iran could be linked to any Iranian activities labeled as “illicit.”

“The operating presumption,” Levey suggested, “should be that virtually all transactions or financial services involving Iran could contribute to its nuclear or missile programs.” Levey saw the establishment of that “presumption” as the key to frightening potential investors away from Iran.

 

Even though the Treasury sanctions legally apply only to assets and transactions under US jurisdiction, Levey observed, “[W]e have found over the years that many banks and businesses around the world cut off dealings with designated targets…”

By enriching uranium at the 60 percent level of purity, Iran is applying its own strategy of diplomatic leverage, hoping to force an end to economic sanctions ravaging its economy. Tehran employed the same tactic in 2012, pressuring the Obama administration to drop its insistence that Iran essentially give up its enrichment program entirely.

The Obama administration believed it was well positioned to force Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions. To whittle away at US diplomatic pressure, Iran doubled its total number of centrifuges onsite between May and August 2012, but it never actually used the bulk of that capability to enrich uranium. None of the newly installed centrifuges were even connected with pipes; and only one third of those that were connected were actually enriching. In September 2012, Iran offered to end its policy of 20 percent enrichment in return for the lifting of sanctions. An Obama administration official acknowledged that Iran had gained “leverage” by creating a high degree of capacity, but not using it.

The result was the compromise at the heart of the JCPOA: Iran agreed to give up its ability to produce enough enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon and the US removed its economic sanctions that had blocked Iran from achieving its development goals.

Now, the Biden administration is planning to exploit the crushing sanctions regime it inherited from Trump to extract further concessions from Iran. Those sanctions have brought what the IMF has called “extreme distress” to Iranian economy and society, increasing inflation and unemployment, and sharply reducing popular access to food, healthcare and medicine.

But any notion that US sanctions would result in popular pressure for government concessions on the nuclear deal was contradicted by a survey of Iranian public opinion by the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy in late 2019 which found that a solid majority of Iranians now questioned whether Iran should have signed the JCPOA in the first place.

Nevertheless, Joe Biden, Secretary of State Blinken and other top officials in the administration are acutely attuned to Israeli strategic thinking. They appear convinced that their ability to pressure Iran through sanctions has been strengthened –– especially after the April 11 Israeli sabotage attack on the Natanz enrichment facility, which will set back Iranian enrichment plans at the facility for at least nine months.

But the Biden team’s hopes that Iran could be coerced to return to the nuclear deal while the US attempts to economically strangle Iran until it accedes to its demands demonstrates a breathtaking lack of perspective. If this delusional mindset prevails, it is likely to lead to a much more serious crisis in the coming months.

April 19, 2021 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , | 1 Comment