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Arab Spring returns home to uncertain welcome

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | April 12, 2019

The Arab Spring has returned to the Middle East after nearly six years in exile. It was in July 2013 that reversing the tide of democracy in Egypt that swept away the dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak, army chief General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi led a coalition with the backing of Saudi Arabia and the UAE to remove the elected President of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, from power and suspended the the country’s constitution of 2012.

The Arab Spring never quite recovered from that trauma. There is a nifty aphorism of obscure origin that ‘History does not repeat itself but it often rhymes.’ The return of the Arab Spring to Algeria and Sudan in the recent weeks fits into that description. The similarity with the past lies in the undeniable fact that the Arab Spring is riding the wave of anti-regime protests in both Algeria and Sudan, triggered spontaneously by enormous public hatred of the regimes for their brutal repression, corruption, indifference to poverty and the intolerable conditions of day-to-day life.

In Sudan, the tipping point came four months ago over the government decision to triple the price of bread. In Algeria, the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back came in February when then President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced that he would seek a fifth-term in office, whereupon tens of thousands took to the streets.

In the sheer spontaneity of the Arab Spring revolt in Sudan and Algeria, time seemed to stand still since 2013. First in Algeria, after some six weeks of protests, and in Sudan within days, after four months of protests, the dictators got ousted. But in reality, things are never quite the repetition of the past — protests this time around are on a significantly higher scale. Lessons may have been learnt from the tragic example of Egypt where a heroic popular struggle that brought the Muslim Brotherhood and Mohammed Morsi to power ended in the blood-soaked 2013 coup led by General Sisi. The tragic saga of the Arab Spring in Egypt showed that entrenched ruling elites do not relinquish power simply because of militant mass protests.

Thus, both in Algeria and Sudan, there is popular resistance to the all-too-familiar pattern repeating — the army generals stepping in as the apparent saviours to remove the unpopular, detested dictators from power — Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir — but then, only to usurp power and establish military dictatorships, as had happened in Egypt. In Algeria, the protestors are openly shouting ‘No repeat of the Egyptian scenario.’ In Sudan, the exhortation to the protestors is: ‘Stay put and guard your revolution. To comply with the curfew (imposed by the generals) is to recognise the clone rescue government (led by the army.)’

However, the spectre that is haunting the masses in both Algeria and Sudan is the danger of bloody counterrevolution. Leadership is lacking among protestors and they lack the machinery or cadres to coordinate opposition to military-police repression. Meanwhile, the entrenched elite is co-opting the middle class and trying to lull protestors to sleep with (false) promises of a democratic capitalist future. The military junta in Algeria is promising to convene a constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution, while the counterpart in Sudan has voiced its intention to hold democratic elections in two years.

In Sudan, there is also the added factor of foreign interference. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi openly said this week, “We cannot afford a leadership emerging in … Sudan that tolerates, or even worse condones, militant Islamic activity. This is why … we are keeping a close eye on any possible transition of power in Sudan.” The reference is to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Of course, it is a phoney argument, since the Brothers in Sudan have historically rejected union with the Egyptian branch (forming an alliance instead with the Sudanese Ansar-Ummah political bloc in support of Sudanese independence.) Sisi’s real worry is that if Sudan takes the democratic path, Muslim Brotherhood that has dominated Sudanese politics will surge to take the elected leadership, as had happened in Egypt in 2011, and that would rekindle the clamour for democracy in his country too.

Alex de Waal at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University writing for the BBC assesses that “the cabal (that usurped power in Sudan) is aligned with Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Meanwhile, Qatar and Turkey have lost out. The new leadership dissolved the ruling National Congress Party and reportedly arrested many veteran Muslim Brothers.”

“They are busy telling Western countries that the Islamists had planned a coup, which needed to be forestalled by the army takeover, and that the protesters demanding democracy are also Muslim Brothers in disguise. It’s not a very convincing story, but it points to future tensions because the Islamists still have a strong following in Sudan.”

Sadly, in the emergent “multipolar world order”, there are hardly any takers for democracy or the Arab Spring — except, arguably, Turkey, Qatar and Iran — especially if it smacks of political Islam The big powers feel cozy with dictatorships. On Wednesday, the US and Britain issued a statement effectively backing the pre-emptive military coup in Sudan. At a meeting with Sisi on April 9 (who was on an official visit to the US at the invitation of President Trump), US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo thanked the dictator “for his leadership in advancing Egypt’s and the region’s security and stability, including through counterterrorism efforts and countering the Iranian regime’s malign influence.”

April 12, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , , , | Leave a comment

After Decades of Refusing Egypt the F-15, US Demands Cairo Terminates Plans to Acquire Russia’s Su-35

Pompeo threatens Egypt, is looking at CAATSA sanctions

Military Watch | April 9, 2019

In response to Egypt’s plans to modernise its Air Force with acquisition of an estimated two dozen Russian Su-35 ‘4++ generation’ air superiority fighters, the United States has issued a blunt warning that such purchases would result in American economic sanctions against Cairo.

Officials stated  regarding the purchase: “In terms of the expanding Russian influence in the region, that’s obviously something which we are quite concerned. We don’t see a lot of material benefits to engagements with the Russians… We just would encourage the Egyptians to turn more toward the West, toward the United States.”

This was closely followed by a statement from State Secretary Mike Pompeo, who said regarding the sale: “We have made clear that systems were to be purchased that… would require sanctions on the regime,” Pompeo told the Senate Committee on Appropriations. “We have received assurances from them, they understand that, and I am very hopeful they will decide not to move forward with that acquisition.”

Egypt has extensively modernised its military capabilities since the coming to power of a new administration in 2013, which overthrew a strongly Western aligned Islamist government that year. The overthrow led the U.S. to freeze arms shipments to the country, which in turn was a considerable factor influencing Cairo to turn away from Washington for future arms purchases.

However, a history of extensive and in the view of many excessive restrictions on American arms sales to Egypt were also reportedly at play in forcing Egypt away from American weapons – in particular jet aircraft.

Israel and the Saudis could buy F-15s, but not the Egyptians

Since abandoning its defence ties to the Soviet Union under President Anwar Sadat in the mid 1970s Egypt has repeatedly sought to acquire high end air superiority fighters – namely the American F-15 Eagle. While these aircraft were sold to Saudi Arabia and Israel in large numbers however, Egypt was restricted to purchasing the cheaper and lighter jets such as the F-16 – ensuring a balance of power which favoured the Western Bloc’s more reliable clients.

Furthermore, Egypt was the only major operator of the F-16 denied modern AIM-120 air to air missiles – meaning its aircraft would face an overwhelming disadvantage in combat with those of any other U.S. client.

Egypt’s move to upgrade its aerial warfare capabilities began with acquisition of the S-300V4 surface to air missile system and 45 MiG-29M medium weight multirole fighters. These were accompanied by purchases of complementary shorter ranged air defence platforms, and advanced long range air to air missiles such as the R-77 and extended range R-27 variants.

With high end heavy air superiority fighters today manufactured only by the United States, Russia and China, of which only the first two offer them for export, it was to be expected that Egypt would turn to Russia for such systems due to the United States’ refusal to provide them.

While the pretext for sanctions against Egypt is that the fighter purchase would provide funds to a U.S. adversary, with the contract estimated at $2 billion, the Su-35 in Egyptian hands also overturns the regional balance of power the United States has for so long succeeded in maintaining.

The fighters are capable of surpassing any other platforms currently deployed in the Middle East or Africa in their air to air combat capabilities, including the advanced Algerian Su-30MKA and Saudi F-15SA, and are also capable of deploying hypersonic R-37M ‘AWACS killer’ missiles.

These platforms retain a 400km engagement range and pose a major threat to support aircraft of Egypt’s potential adversaries such as the America and Saudi Saudi E-3 Sentries or Israeli Eitam AWACS platforms. Ultimately whether Egypt will yield under American pressure remains to be seen, but given its economy’s fragility and heavy reliance on the Western Bloc this remains a considerable possibility.

April 11, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 1 Comment

Egypt pulls out of anti-Iran alliance envisioned by US, allies: Report

US President Donald Trump meets with his Egyptian counterpart, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, at the White House in Washington on April 9, 2019. (Photo by Reuters)
Press TV | April 11, 2019

Egypt has reportedly turned its back on a US-led initiative to establish a NATO-style alliance of Arab countries primarily aimed at countering Iran out of concerns that such a coalition could increase tensions with the Islamic Republic, among other reasons.

Four sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Thursday that Cairo had informed the US and the members of what is to be called the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA) of the withdrawal plan ahead of their Sunday’s meeting in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

One of the sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Egypt had not sent a delegation to the Riyadh event.

An Arab source stressed that Egypt had pulled out of the so-called “Arab NATO” because of its doubts about the seriousness of the proposal as well as the danger that such an Arab front would increase tensions with Tehran.

Other reasons were uncertainty about whether US President Donald Trump will win a second term in 2020 and whether his successor may scrap the initiative to form an anti-Iran alliance, the Arab source added.

Reuters described Cairo’s move as a blow to the Trump administration’s anti-Iran strategy.

A Saudi source also confirmed problems with the plan, saying, “It’s not moving well.”

Meanwhile, two other sources emphasized that the remaining MESA members were moving ahead with the initiative and would press Egypt diplomatically to revoke its withdrawal from the anti-Iran group.

“We all want them back,” said one of the sources.

The Arab source, however, noted that Egypt could not be convinced to return to the so-called “Arab NATO,” which is comprised of Jordan and six Persian Gulf Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar.

Egyptian officials have not yet commented on the report.

The alliance was first proposed by Saudi Arabia back in 2017 in a bid to counter Iran as well as Russia and China, according to a classified White House document reviewed by Reuters last year.

It has, however, faced several obstacles such as a diplomatic standoff between Qatar and a Saudi-led quartet of countries and the fallout of the state-sponsored killing of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The problems have delayed a summit in the United States, which would feature the signing of a preliminary accord on the anti-Iran alliance.

The report about Cairo’s withdrawal plan came following a meeting between Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Trump in Washington.

Before the meeting, Trump had said he would exchange views with Sisi on security issues, but it was not clear whether they discussed the MESA issue.

The US and its allies in the Persian Gulf view regional powerhouse Iran as a common “threat.” They constantly accuse the Islamic Republic of “regional interference,” a claim Tehran vehemently rejects.

Trump – who came to office in early 2017 with a highly belligerent anti-Iran agenda – has been pressing its Arab allies to act on the Saudi initiative and move to form the NATO-like military alliance.

In parallel, the US president has also been encouraging the Arabs to step up their attempts towards normalization with the regime in Israel in favor of a coalition against Iran.

In February, a controversial US-organized summit in Warsaw, Poland, brought together Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and representatives from a number of Arab states, including Oman, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Kuwait, among other participants.

On the sidelines of that event, Netanyahu said the Arab countries participating in the Warsaw forum were “sitting down together with Israel in order to advance the common interest of war with Iran.”

Tehran has also repeatedly warned the Persian Gulf littoral states against the US’s divisive policies in the Middle East, saying the planned Arab alliance would merely be a tool for the US to fuel tensions in the region and advance its own agenda there.

April 11, 2019 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Nasrallah on the End of US Hegemony: Trump will Leave the Middle East, Region Already Reshaping – PART II

Interview of Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah Secretary General, with Ghassan Ben Jeddou, founder of the pan-Arab and anti-imperialist Al-Mayadeen channel, January 26, 2019.

Transcript:

Ghassan Ben Jeddou: (The US forces withdrawal from Syria announced by Trump) is therefore not a mere tactical maneuver. You say he is serious and sincere in his desire to withdraw, but this reflects a failure, if not a defeat, not for Trump especially but for the American (hegemony) project in general.

Hassan Nasrallah: Obviously this is all at once a failure, a dead end and a defeat. Currently, the cause of his hesitation is that (his advisers) tell him that the Kurds are their allies (and that they should not abandon them). I’ll explain why we saw these hesitations recently (as regards the US withdrawal from Syria).

When Trump said that US troops would withdraw and that there was only sand and death in Syria, he also said something even more important: “Does the USA want to be the Policeman of the Middle East? Do we want to be there forever?” With this statement, he hinted, and even more than hinted (this is an explicit indication), that all these US forces in the Middle East were not to stay, and that in time he would conduct (a full) withdrawal. What effect did this statement produce in the region, Professor Ghassan? Let us leave the question of Israel for later.

This statement caused, within the Saudi regime, in a number of Gulf countries enemies of Syria, and among all the allies of the United States in the region, – be they organizations, parties or personalities, not to mention the States – an immense feeling of fear and despair. And Trump knows them well (and he knew the effect that his statement would cause). When he says (to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries) that “You would not last two weeks (in power) without American (military) support”, or “Without us, your planes would get off the ground but couldn’t land”, “Without us, you Saudis would speak Persian.” He tells them all this, and adds “We will not remain the (Middle East’s) policeman, we will leave the region.” This caused a state of confusion, despair and fear in the region. That’s the first point.

That is why all the countries and groups (who rely on the US), starting with the Kurdish parties, came to Beirut and asked to meet with Hezbollah. We met them. Then they went…

Ghassan Ben Jeddou: Who are you talking about ?

Hassan Nasrallah: Kurdish parties, who are responsible for negotiating on behalf of the Kurdish units. They came to talk to us, and from there they went to Moscow and then to Iraq to request that Iraq serves as an intermediary with President Bashar al-Assad. Today, the Kurds and the Kurdish movements are (hopelessly) seeking…

Ghassan Ben Jeddou: Who are you talking about exactly? The Syrian Democratic Forces?

Hassan Nasrallah: Yes, the Syrian Democratic Forces, Kurd bodies and representatives in charge of negotiating. Very quickly, they rushed to Moscow, to Iraq, to Lebanon. Why? Because Trump has abandoned them, he forsake them, he betrayed them. This is regarding the East of the Euphrates.

Regarding the (US-aligned) countries, (they panicked at the idea of being abandoned), and they all began to think (intensely and reconsider their positions). They review their stances and try to strengthen their relations with Russia, they reconsider their relations with Iran. Even in Syria, the priorities of some countries are not the same anymore. And now we can talk about the issue (of the relations between) Arab (countries) and Syria. You want me to tell you this story now, or later?

Ghassan Ben Jeddou: Please, go ahead.

Hassan Nasrallah: According to my information, all that we saw in recent weeks, namely the Emirates reopening their embassy in Syria…

Ghassan Ben Jeddou: And before that, the President (of Sudan) al-Bashir (coming to Syria).

Hassan Nasrallah: Indeed. The President al-Bashir came to Syria. Did he come on his own?

Ghassan Ben Jeddou: What is your information?

Hassan Nasrallah: He got a green light from Saudi Arabia.

Ghassan Ben Jeddou: This is your information?

Hassan Nasrallah: Yes. A green light from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries.

At the end, lately, President al-Bashir rallied them. And the fact that (an Arab President) meets Bashar al-Assad is something of vital importance to (Saudi Arabia and the Emirates).

Ghassan Ben Jeddou: So this visit was not an arrangement of Russia that would have angered Saudi Arabia and the UAE (as some media have claimed)?

Hassan Nasrallah: No, under no circumstances. The current problem between President al-Bashir and Saudi Arabia has nothing to do with his visit to Syria. It concerns the fact that Saudi Arabia has not kept its promises and financial commitments made to President al-Bashir in return for his sending brigades of the Sudanese army to fight in Yemen – and Sudan’s involvement in this war is very unfortunate. This issue has nothing to do with Syria.

Anyway, the visit of President al-Bashir (to Syria), the reopening of the UAE embassy, the announcement of the Foreign Minister of Bahrain – and by the way, his statement was false, he was lying – who claimed that their embassy in Syria had always remained open, etc. But this is not true. Anyway, we started to see an Arab atmosphere (different with regard to Syria), we see Saudi advances, (Syrian) delegations visited Cairo, and there is talk about the coming of President al-Sissi and others to Damascus, etc. What is the reason ? And here I also speak basing myself on sound information that come from more than one (trustworthy) source.

In light of the decision of Trump to withdraw, and after the resignation of Mattis, who was seen as a guarantee by many, and because of the visible concern within the US administration, there was a great wave of panic in Saudi Arabia and the UAE – and with all their allies and instruments, but especially these two countries in particular. They met in Abu Dhabi to assess the situation – and their options – at a very high level. They assessed their situation in Syria and said:

“The battle against President Bashar al-Assad is over, and our groups have failed. All the movements we financed are now with Erdogan, isn’t it? All those who fought in Syria, in southern Syria, which were financed by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Israel, have gradually retreated (following their consecutive defeats) and are now all in the North, that is to say (in the hands of) Erdogan. The battle against President Assad is over as regards the armed factions, groups and parties that we supported, as well as our various networks of influence: our whole project collapsed. Assad will certainly remain in office, the Syrian State won, the opposing Axis triumphed in Syria. There remains (only) one danger (that we can prevent): Erdogan –sorry, I mean Trump– made the decision to withdraw (his troops from Syria), and therefore, the only refuge of the Kurds is Assad and Damascus, (to avoid) the invasion of the East of the Euphrates by Turkey.”

Trump told Erdogan that Syria is his. If Syria is (abandoned to) Erdogan, if Turkey wants to invade Syria, it is a very dangerous project for Saudi Arabia and the Emirates. Imagine that their analysis reached this conclusion: the main danger in Syria is not Iran…

Ghassan Ben Jeddou: This is the conclusion reached by the UAE and Saudi Arabia?

Hassan Nasrallah: Yes. (The main danger in their eyes) is not Iran. The main danger (today) is Turkey. Iran comes in second position. President Assad, whose position is fully consolidated in Syria, is third, and (Saudi Arabia and the UAE) are even willing to have relations with him. They may also agree with Russia and get some guarantees from her, etc. Russia is less problematic in their eyes. They consider that the main danger is Turkey.

You know, (Saudi Arabia and the UAE) always think in sectarian terms. Ultimately, (in their eyes), Iran – and do not blame me for my frankness – is a Shiite country, and therefore may only have limited influence in Syria, etc. On the other hand, Turkey is a Sunni country, which has a certain presence in Syria, historical relations with that country, is a neighboring country and has a common border, so if Turkey enters (permanently) in Syria, it will be the end and no one will be able to get them out. (That’s how they see things).

Is it because their heart burns for Syria (that they fear a Turkish invasion)? Certainly not. Never. They couldn’t care less about the fate of Syria (and Syrians). But they believe that the advance of the Turkish project in Syria would be the advance of the (opponent) Axis, namely Turkey, Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood. And that would revive this project, which targets, according to them, the Saudi regime, the UAE regime, the Egyptian regime, etc.

Ghassan Ben Jeddou: And this is the reason of their opening (towards the Syrian regime)?

Hassan Nasrallah: That is why they decided to get closer to Syria and to restore relations with President Assad and the Syrian State, while remaining in their hostility towards Iran, but trying to agree with Russia in order to put obstacles in the way of any progress of Erdogan’s (neo-Ottoman) project in Syria and therefore in the region.

Ghassan Ben Jeddou: But what happened to them so that they’d interrupt their rapprochement with Damascus?

Hassan Nasrallah: The opening (towards Syria) began, and they started talking about the return of Syria in the Arab League. President al-Bashir visited President Assad and told him about it. And Assad’s position did not surprise me.

Ghassan Ben Jeddou: What have they offered? What is your information?

Hassan Nasrallah: They asked Syria to submit a written request indicating that given the new circumstances in the region (end of the war in Syria, etc.) and their concern for the Arab States and Arab Unity  & Cooperation, they wanted to regain their statute of member of the Arab League.

Ghassan Ben Jeddou: This is the message they gave him?

Hassan Nasrallah: Yes. Of course, I refer to the substance of their proposal, and I do not quote it by heart.

Ghassan Ben Jeddou: And then?

Hassan Nasrallah: (Assad’s) answer (was as follows): “Syria has never walked out of the Arab League (voluntarily), so we cannot request to come back to it. We never submitted a resignation that we should now withdraw. It is up to those who have kicked us out to ask us to come back.” And this is a noble and dignified position, and perfectly predictable. It is not a surprise. If Arab regimes think that they merely have to tell President Assad that their doors are open and that Syria can come back (to the Arab League), to see him feel a huge relief and run with joy in their arms, they are deluded. Syria will resume its place in the Arab world, and it is in its interest. But she will come back with all her dignity (and not slavishly).

What is new is that the US has made an assessment of Trump’s accomplishments, “But what have you done? Where are our allies?” So-and-so is (getting closer to) Russia, so-and-so is with President Bashar al-Assad, so-and-so considers that now, the main danger in Syria is Turkey (major NATO member) and not Iran, while the US want their (main) enemy to remain Iran. What to do (in this situation of dramatic decline of US influence in the Middle East)?

Allow me to say, about Lebanon and all the Lebanese political forces that were betting on the fall of the Syrian State and regime, that you can imagine in what state they found themselves when they heard Mr. Trump declare that he would withdraw from Syria.

Therefore, the US decided to ask Mr. Pompeo to tour the region to boost the morale of all States and groups who are devastated by the announcement of the US withdrawal from Syria (and the Middle East), and began to reconsider their choices, their relationships and their future and to grab on to their thrones (in a fit of panic). (This Pompeo visit aimed to) try to put them back on their feet, to boost their morale and to assure them that the US supports them and won’t give up on them, that they do not intend to leave the region, and as a proof, he invited them to participate with the United States to a conference in Warsaw meant to deal with Iran, its influence and its threat, (in an attempt) to put them back in confrontation with Iran, at least in terms of appearances.

(Pompeo) sent David Hill to Lebanon – for Pompeo (feels) too important to come himself to Lebanon – with the same message, to reassure those who felt frightened, demoralized, anxious and lost by the US policy in the Middle-East.

But since we have arrived at this point of our discussion, I want to conclude this presentation with this statement: the United States will not manage to do more than they have already done. I declare to the governments of the region, to their leaders, to their peoples, to their movements and to Israel – because we will finally come to Israel –, that the US are deserting our region. They will flee Syria – it may take several months, but the decision is taken.

O my brothers, they are fleeing from Afghanistan. And do you know who they leave (in charge of) Afghanistan? They leave the Taliban! Because in the agreement, Trump won the Taliban’s commitment not to allow Al Qaeda and ISIS (to settle) back in Afghanistan. Trump considers that the Taliban represent the government of tomorrow, who can (already) provide guarantees to the US government. Isn’t it a humiliating defeat for the US in Afghanistan? Especially since the Taliban are officially considered as a terrorist organization (by the US), and Washington claims to never negotiate with terrorists.

The United States will flee. There will be no more US forces waging war in our region. Trump won’t launch a war for the eyes of Mohammad Bin Salman (Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia), nor for the eyes of Mohammed bin Zayed (UAE Crown Prince), not even for Netanyahu’s eyes – and clearly, Netanyahu’s eyes are much more valuable to Trump. Not even for the eyes of Netanyahu! Trump, the US and the situation of the United States, either inside at the level of the economy, etc., etc., etc., do not allow them to launch a new war in our region. There will be no US war in the region.

What does Trump want then? (For him), it is from their own pocket that States, regimes and forces (allied to the US in the Middle East must fight), with their own money, their own media, their own blood… Trump wants to bring them together again to put them (alone) against Iran. And if, against Iran, for 40 years – we are at the 40th anniversary (of the Islamic Revolution) –, the United States and all the tyrants on Earth have been unable to do anything to bring down this regime and this blessed Islamic Republic, then (what could the Arab States do by themselves)?

Ghassan Ben Jeddou: But Eminent Sayed, relatively, (the United States), haven’t they won? You just revealed a very important information, namely that the Saudis and Emiratis gathered and concluded that the major strategic change that you just presented will occur (inevitably). But it seems that Trump still won. First, he slowed down the rush of Arab countries to Damascus, and secondly, today, we hear a new discourse from the Arab countries, namely that…

Hassan Nasrallah: The fact that he stopped the momentum of the Arab countries is natural. He can keep them in check easily. Do you think that these countries are courageous, independent, that they have an independent process of decision, and may rebel against their American master? Never. That is why…

Ghassan Ben Jeddou: What I mean is that the US managed to put all their allies –Saudi Arabia, the UAE and all others– into line.

Hassan Nasrallah: Yes, but this is not a success. Trump only prevented that everything collapses quickly. But (it is mere damage control and) the collapse process is still ongoing.

Ghassan Ben Jeddou: Has he stopped or only slowed down the process of opening the Arab countries towards Syria?

Hassan Nasrallah: What we have heard and what was reported to us is that they are undecided. There is no clear choice to maintain the absence (of relations with Damascus) or stay in a completely negative attitude (against Syria). I give you a proof of that. Two days ago, there was a meeting between a UAE economic delegation and a Syrian delegation. I do not remember if it was held in Damascus or in the Emirates. This means that at least, at an intermediate level, these relations will continue. (Sooner or later), it will be revealed that very important people in Arab countries secretly came to Damascus, although these meetings were not made public. But it is for the Syrian leadership (to reveal this issue). And I speak of meetings at the highest level.

Ghassan Ben Jeddou: At the political or security level?

Hassan Nasrallah: At least at the security level.

Ghassan Ben Jeddou: For example heads of intelligence services?

Hassan Nasrallah: For example.

Ghassan Ben Jeddou: Policymakers?

Hassan Nasrallah: Yes.

Ghassan Ben Jeddou: From these (most) influential Gulf countries (Saudi Arabia and UAE)?

Hassan Nasrallah: Let’s just say from Arab countries, (don’t try to force me) to reveal more about their identity or titles – whether Sheikh or Sayed, Professor or Hajj, Doctor or Engineer, etc. What I have revealed is enough (I will say no more).

Ghassan Ben Jeddou: Influential and active Arab countries?

Hassan Nasrallah: Currently, the United States wants and strives to retain forcefully these Arab countries back (to prevent them from making a step towards Damascus, Moscow, etc.) But of course, so far, they haven’t brought anything substantial to convince them and reassure them (that this is the right choice), and that the United States have not abandoned Syria to Turkey. For this is what Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, President al-Sissi and Egypt, and all the others, want to hear clearly.

That is why we will perhaps see, on the Arab question, a slowdown or coldness in the momentum towards Syria, but I exclude that this movement can be completely stopped. Therefore I conclude this point by saying that the United States failed in Syria. Of course, after this fiasco, the one who loses the most and who is in the greatest distress is Netanyahu.

Ghassan Ben Jeddou: Yes. […]

Translation: unz.com/sayedhasan

March 31, 2019 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

UAE minister says Israel boycott was wrong, time for Arab world to change strategy

Press TV – March 29, 2019

A senior official in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has called on Arab nations to change their decades-long strategy of having no diplomatic relations with Israel, which he brands as a mistake.

Anwar Gargash, the tiny Persian Gulf regime’s minister of state for foreign affairs, said that the Arab world needed a “strategic shift” in its ties with the regime in Tel Aviv.

“Many, many years ago, when there was an Arab decision not to have contact with Israel, that was a very, very wrong decision, looking back,” he told the UAE-based news website The National.

“The strategic shift needs actually for us to progress on the peace front,” said Gargash, who also believed that the boycott of Israel has made finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict more complicated.

“From the perspective of the UAE, we do need to resolve it, because this issue has this tendency of jumping out of the background when it’s quiet to suddenly becoming headline news.”

Among the Arab countries, the governments of Egypt and Jordan are the only ones having formal diplomatic ties with Israel.

The call for open ties with Israel comes after US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Syria’s occupied Golan Heights as Israeli territories.

Israel occupied the area during the Six-Day War with Arab armies in 1967 and went on to annex the East Jerusalem al-Quds. The international community has condemned both moves and repeatedly called on Israel to give back the territories.

Trump, however, recognized Jerusalem al-Quds as the Israeli “capital” in December 2017 and moved the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the ancient city in May last year, sparking global condemnations.

Israel lays claim to the whole city, but the Palestinians view it as the capital of their future sovereign state. The city has been designated as “occupied” under international law since it fell to Israel.

The UAE, along with Saudi Arabia, are known to have secretly developed expansive ties with Tel Aviv over the past years.

Israeli media reported in late January that UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the country’s national security adviser had paid a not-so-secret visit to Israel with a direct flight from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv.

The trip came a few days after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took a tour of regional countries in a bid to unite Arab countries and the Israeli regime against Iran.

In an interview with Fox News on January 4, Pompeo was asked about an unofficial anti-Iran alliance between the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Jordan.

“Undoubtedly. We have set the conditions in the Middle East where these countries are now working together across multiple fronts,” Pompeo said.

The outgoing chief of staff of the Israeli military, Gadi Eisenkot, reportedly made two secret visits in November to the United Arab Emirates, where he met with senior officials.

In June, the New Yorker magazine reported that Israel had maintained a secret but extremely close relationship with the UAE for more than two decades, with a special focus on intelligence sharing and military cooperation, including potential weapons deals

.

March 29, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Report: Egypt plan to lift siege requires disarmament of Gaza

MEMO | March 22, 2019

An Israeli report said that Egypt has put forward a plan for a settlement between Israel and Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip, led by Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. Israel Hayom newspaper reported on Thursday that “according to security sources in Egypt and Palestinian officials in Gaza and Ramallah, Israel and Egypt have become convinced that Hamas’s control in Gaza is a self-evident fact.”

Israel Hayom quoted Egyptian security sources and Palestinian officials in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It explained that the Egyptian proposal stated that they would disarm the factions – except for light weapons – in exchange for lifting the siege on the Gaza Strip.

According to this plan, all internal affairs will remain in the hands of Palestinian organisations headed by Hamas or a unified political entity for all organisations in the Strip. The internal security of the Gaza Strip will be based on “Hamas National Security Forces, which are currently operating.” The arms that will be in possession of the Internal Security Forces will be light weapons, in small quantities and subject to a strict control system.

In turn, the Israeli and Egyptian siege on the Gaza Strip will be lifted, according to the newspaper. Also, projects in the areas of infrastructure, employment, economy, health and education, financed by the United Nations, the European Union and Arab countries, “led by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE,” will be implemented. The plan calls for the opening of a maritime route to the Gaza port, which will allow in the first stage the export and import of goods directly to the Gaza Strip.

The newspaper asserted that “these parties have succumbed to the fact that the Palestinian Authority will have difficulty in regaining control in the Gaza Strip, whether after an internal Palestinian reconciliation, or because of the collapse of Hamas rule against the backdrop of the grave humanitarian situation, or because of the continued military confrontation with Israel.”

According to the newspaper, Egyptian sources stated that the Israeli policy towards the Strip is “soft,” and that this stems from Israel’s unwillingness to allow the “Hamas regime” to collapse and in anticipation that in the event of Hamas’s collapse, “extremist groups loyal to Iran or Salafist groups similar to Daesh will enter” to fill the vacuum.

The newspaper further said that estimates in Israel and Egypt indicate that “such a settlement can be implemented within three to five years, but the main obstacle is that Hamas and other Palestinian armed factions will oppose disarmament.”

Quoting sources it described as officials in Ramallah, the newspaper added that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the PLO leadership would agree to “overthrow” Hamas and the factions in Gaza “only in case it led such a process when the control of Gaza is in the hands of the Palestinian Authority.”

The newspaper asserted that US security bodies obtained a draft of the plan which was formulated by Israeli and Egyptian crews. It quoted an Egyptian security official saying: “We are currently waiting for the new government to be elected in Israel to speed up the process; while the goal after the Israeli elections is the entry of other influential Arab countries, such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the UAE.”

The Egyptian security official added that “if Abu Mazen and the leadership in Ramallah do not put obstacles, the plan can be put into effect with the full cooperation of all the regional actors and through providing guarantees and assistance by the international community. But, it is estimated that there will be strong opposition to the disarmament plan of the Gaza Strip by the PLO and mainly by the armed factions in Gaza.”

March 22, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Israel, Greece to Build Radar on Crete Amid Rapprochement– Reports

Sputnik – March 19, 2019

The Long Horizon marine radar system will be built by Israel and Greece in eastern Crete, the Greek newspaper Kathimerini reports. The enhanced coverage of the radar will allow both countries to monitor the Eastern Mediterranean basin. The daily has not disclosed the cost of the project, saying only that it is “not insignificant,” especially taking into account Greece’s reduced military budget.

According to the outlet, Athens and Tel Aviv have been drifting together recently, boosting their military ties among other things. Greece has recently agreed with Israel to share know-how for its navy, which has begun to develop. According to the outlet, 40 Israeli probationers will be carried by a Greek transporter from Haifa to Crete, without any stops in Cyprus, by the end of the month. The Israelis will join the Greek forces during upcoming drills and then return to Haifa after a stop in Milos and Rhodes.

On the other hand, Athens has been open to the possibility of bolstering its arms gaps with the help of Israel, as Kathimerini noted. Among other things, Greece has rented seven drones from Israel for search and rescue operations.

Israel’s Haaretz reports that Cyprus also shares the Israeli interests in the region. The list of common interests includes a stance on the situation in Syria and Lebanon as well as uneasy relations with Turkey.

Apart from military and political cooperation, which is to be confirmed during an upcoming trilateral Greek-Israeli-Cypriot summit with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the three countries are developing a major economic project — the undersea East Med pipeline, designed to deliver natural gas from the Eastern Mediterranean to Europe via Greece and Cyprus. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades are expected to sign the grand deal, agreed upon in 2018, within the month, as the Greek media earlier reported.

The 2,000-kilometre underwater pipeline is intended to have a capacity of 12 billion cubic metres of gas annually, delivering fuel from Israel’s Leviathan, named one of the largest young gas reserves in the world, and the Aphrodite offshore gas fields. Additionally, the venture was boosted in February when it was announced that large gas deposits had been discovered in Cyprus.

The line, which is almost twice as long as Russia’s Turk Stream pipeline, is estimated to cost $8 billion and is said to be the world’s deepest underwater gas pipeline. Egypt, the only Muslim nation besides Jordan that has a peace treaty with Israel, is also seeking to export its newly discovered gas reserves, and has expressed interest in joining the project.

March 19, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Sayyed Houthi: Arab Media Campaigns against Hezbollah Result of Normalization with ‘Israel’

Al-Manar | March 3, 2019

The leader of the Houthi Ansarullah revolutionary movement, Sayyed Abdul Malik al- Houthi, on Sunday stressed that the Warsaw conference was a mere announcement of normalizing ties between some Arab regimes and the Zionist entity at the expense of the Palestinian cause.

Sayyed Houthi stressed rejection of this normalization, considering that the Zionist occupation in any Arab area targets the entire Umma.

The Zion-American schemes aim at creating a new enemy for the Arabs he said, adding that media campaigns launched by some Arab regimes against Hezbollah and the Palestinian resistance is the direct result of normalizing ties with the Israeli entity.

Stressing that the Zionist entity is directly involved in the aggression on Yemen, Sayyed Al-Houthi reiterated the Yemeni’s support to the major causes of the Umma.

Yemen has been since March 25, 2015 under aggression by the Saudi-led coalition, which also includes UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan and Kuwait, in a bid to restore power to fugitive former president Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi.

Tens of thousands of Yemenis have been injured and martyred in Saudi-led strikes, with the vast majority of them being civilians.

However, the allied forces of the Yemeni Army and popular committees established by Ansarullah revolutionaries have been heroically confronting the aggression with all means.

March 3, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Samidoun calls for the freedom of political prisoners in Egyptian jails

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network – February 22, 2019

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network condemned the executions carried out by the Egyptian regime against 9 Egyptian youths, calling for an end to the “systematic and continuous repression and killings by the fascist regime of General Abdel-Fattah Sisi.”

“What is happening in Egyptian prisons is systematic and documented torture. While this is widely known, it does not receive sufficient attention from international human rights bodies and legal institutions,” said Mohammed Khatib, the Europe coordinator of Samidoun. He referred to the “disgraceful collaboration between the so-called international community and the generals in Cairo.”

Khatib launched a scathing attack on the Egyptian regime and what he called “the silence of the Egyptian and Arab parties who describe themselves as standing with the people. They say with words that they oppose the Camp David regime, but remain silent on the daily violations of the rights of tens of thousands of Egyptian prisoners in Egyptian jails by that same Camp David regime.”

He pointed out “the perpetrators of torture and killings that took place in the prison known as ‘Scorpio’ (the Tora prison complex) and other jails and prisons have not been held accountable for their crimes. As a result, this only encouraged further repression and organized state terror on the part of the generals.”

The steadfastness of political prisoners in the jails of the Arab reactionary, dictatorial regimes stems from the deep and absolute conviction and reality in the interdependence and linking of the struggle of the national and social movements in the Arab world with the struggle of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian prisoners, which is the spearhead of the liberation cause,” said Khatib. “The crimes perpetrated by the Camp David regime against the poor and the oppressed in Egypt cannot be separated from the crimes of the Zionist enemy and imperialist powers in the world, because of the Egyptian state’s dependence on these same imperialist forces. These powers see these regimes as a tool to destroy popular movements in order to further plunder and steal the resources of the Arab peoples.”

He called on activists and friends of the Samidoun Network internationally to stand with political prisoners in Egyptian jails and advocate and organize against the executions while working for the release of all Egyptian prisoners.

February 22, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Leave a comment

Pompeo the Warmonger Supports Authoritarian Regimes

By Brian CLOUGHLEY | Strategic Culture Foundation | 20.01.2019

On January 2 US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Brazil, and his Department noted that in discussions with Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo they “highlighted the importance of working together to address regional and global challenges, including supporting the people of Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua in restoring their democratic governance and their human rights.” Pompeo declared that the US and Brazil “have an opportunity to work alongside each other against authoritarian regimes.”

From this we gather that Pompeo is a strong advocate of democratic governance and will always make it clear that the United States supports unfortunate people living in countries having “authoritarian regimes.” It is apparent he must believe in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that “everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.”

Unfortunately it transpired that Pompeo is a selective supporter of democracy and freedom of religion, because after he left Brazil and went to the Middle East he voiced vigorous support for despots who rule countries in a manner that is undeniably authoritarian.

In a speech in Cairo on January 10 Pompeo threatened Iran and declared that “Nations are rallying to our side to confront the regime like never before. Egypt, Oman, Kuwait, and Jordan have all been instrumental in thwarting Iran’s efforts to evade sanctions.” It must be gratifying for him that these nations have joined the US in its crusade against Iran, three of them being hereditary monarchies and one run by a non-regal martinet.

Oman, for example, is “an absolute monarchy by male primogeniture. The Sultan, Qaboos bin Said al Said, has been the hereditary leader of the country since 1970.” Freedom House notes that “The regime restricts virtually all political rights and civil liberties, and imposes criminal penalties for criticism and dissent… Political parties are not permitted, and the authorities do not tolerate other forms of organized political opposition.”

In Jordan “the monarch holds wide executive and legislative powers, including the appointment of the prime minister and all seats of the senate. The monarch approves and dismisses judges; signs, executes or vetoes all laws; and can suspend or dissolve parliament.”

The leader of Kuwait, the Amir, according to the CIA Factbook, is “chosen from within the ruling family, confirmed by the National Assembly; the prime minister and deputy prime ministers are appointed by the Amir.” In this autocracy, according to Human Rights Watch, there are “no laws prohibiting domestic violence or marital rape… a man who finds his mother, wife, sister or daughter in the act of adultery and kills them is punished by either a small fine or no more than three years in prison.”

Pompeo wants “democratic governance and human rights” in Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua. Why not in Oman, Jordan and Kuwait?

The only one of Pompeo’s countries not ruled by a supreme monarch is Egypt, whose president is Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi who “was elected in May 2014, almost a year after he removed his elected predecessor, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi, from office in a coup.” Sisi “won a second four-year-term in March 2018 against a sole minor opposition candidate. Human rights lawyer Khalid Ali and former prime minister Ahmad Shafiq withdrew from the race, and the former armed forces chief of staff Sami Anan was arrested.”

In his warmongering anti-Iran, anti-Syria speech Pompeo announced that his visit to Egypt was “especially meaningful for me as an evangelical Christian, coming so soon after the Coptic Church’s Christmas celebrations” and visited the Cathedral of the Nativity of Christ and the Al-Fattah Al-Alim mosque where he praised Egypt’s “freedoms here in this houses [sic] of worship, these big, beautiful, gorgeous buildings where the Lord is clearly at work.”

He ignored Amnesty International’s statement that in Egypt “the authorities continued to violate the right to freedom of religion by discriminating against Christians.” His own Department recorded that last year “Irrespective of religion, authorities also did not apply equal protection to all citizens and sometimes closed churches, in violation of the law, according to multiple sources.”

The bigotry of the Egyptian regime and its clerics was epitomised on January 13 when Al Azhar University which is responsible for “a national network of schools with approximately two million students” expelled a female student for being hugged by a male friend. The scandal was revealed in a video clip which “showed a young man carrying a bouquet of flowers kneeling before a young woman and then hugging her in what appeared to be a marriage proposal.” According to a University spokesman this violates “the values and principles of society”. There was not a word from Pompeo, that self-declared admirer of Egyptian places of worship where “the Lord is clearly at work.”

Pompeo continued his tour of the region, and next day, as he landed in Saudi Arabia, the Egyptian regime announced that for the seventh time it had extended its state of emergency which “allows authorities to take exceptional security measures, including the referral of terrorism suspects to state security courts, the imposition of curfews and the confiscation of newspapers.” This would be supported in Saudi Arabia where, as chronicled by Freedom House, the “absolute monarchy restricts almost all political rights and civil liberties. No officials at the national level are elected. The regime relies on extensive surveillance, the criminalization of dissent, appeals to sectarianism, and public spending supported by oil revenues to maintain power. Women and religious minorities face extensive discrimination in law and in practice.”

This discrimination was highlighted by the New York Times on January 13 when it published an Op-Ed by Alia al-Houthlal that implored Pompeo to ask Saudi Prince Mohammad bin Salman to release her sister, the women’s rights activist, Loujain al-Houthlal, who is imprisoned in Riyadh. Ms Alia al-Houthlal wrote that her sister had been tortured in prison, and that a close associate of bin Salman, Saud al-Qahtani, who has been named in connection with the murder of Mr Jamal Khashoggi [brutally killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 last year], was present at several torture sessions.

The Times reported that Pompeo began his conversation with bin Salman, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, by saying “I want to talk to you about a couple of places we’ve been. We think we learned a lot along the way that will be important going forward.” There was no mention of the torture of Loujain al-Houthlal or any other gross violations of human rights in Saudi Arabia where the regime continues to “repress peaceful activists and dissidents, harassing writers, online commentators and others who exercised their right to freedom of expression by expressing views against government policies.”

There was none of that embarrassing stuff. It was all skated over, with Pompeo saying only that “we spoke about human rights issues here in Saudi Arabia – women activists. We spoke about the accountability that – and the expectations that we have. The Saudis are friends, and when friends have conversations, you tell them what your expectations are.”

Pompeo’s expectations include joint action with the Saudi regime and other Middle East autocracies to “counter Iranian malign influence,” which he regards as an even higher priority than “working against authoritarian regimes” in Latin America, which Washington is determined to dominate. Pompeo’s objections to authoritarianism are highly selective, for in his Cairo speech he confined himself to describing Iran “malevolent,” and “oppressive” while denouncing “Iranian expansion” and “regional destruction,” which is a trifle ironic, coming from a Secretary of State whose military devastated Iran’s neighbours, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Pompeo’s ethical approach is decidedly ambiguous and his moral flexibility would attract the admiration of a trampoline gymnast. His Cairo speech was titled “A Force for Good: America’s Reinvigorated Role in the Middle East,” but it is apparent that reinvigoration is confined to plans for destruction of Iran, in which Washington will be assisted by Pompeo’s friends — the Middle East’s authoritarian regimes.

January 20, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Mediterranean Pipeline Wars Are Heating Up

By Viktor Katona | Oilprice.com | December 28, 2018

Things have been quite active in the Eastern Mediterranean lately, with Israel, Cyprus and Greece pushing forward for the realization of the EastMed pipeline, a new gas conduit destined to diversify Europe’s natural gas sources and find a long-term reliable market outlet for all the recent Mediterranean gas discoveries. The three sides have reached an agreement in late November (roughly a year after signing the MoU) to lay the pipeline, the estimated cost of which hovers around $7 billion (roughly the same as rival TurkStream’s construction cost). Yet behind the brave facade, it is still very early to talk about EastMed as a viable and profitable project as it faces an uphill battle with traditionally difficult Levantine geopolitics, as well as field geology.

The EastMed gas pipeline is expected to start some 170 kilometers off the southern coast of Cyprus and reach Otranto on the Puglian coast of Italy via the island of Crete and the Greek mainland. Since most of its subsea section is projected to be laid at depths of 3-3.5 kilometer, in case it is built it would become the deepest subsea gas pipeline, most probably the longest, too, with an estimated length of 1900km. The countries involved proceed from the premise that the pipeline’s throughput capacity would be 20 BCM per year (706 BCf), although previous estimates were within the 12-16 BCm per year interval. According to Yuval Steinitz, the Israeli Energy Minister, the stakeholders would need a year to iron out all the remaining administrative issues and 4-5 years to build the pipeline, meaning it could come onstream not before 2025.

The idea of EastMed was first flaunted around 2009-2010 as the first more or less substantial gas discovery in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Tamar gas field in Israel’s offshore zone, paved the way for speculations about an impending gas boom. Then came the 535 BCm (18.9 TCf) Leviathan in 2010 and the 850 BCm (30 TCf) Zohr discovery in offshore Egypt five years later and suddenly it seemed that an Eastern Mediterranean gas expansion is inevitable. Yet over the years, the operators of Leviathan have already allocated part of their total gas volumes to domestic power generating companies and most notably NEPCO, the Jordanian electric power company (1.6-2BCm per year). Egypt has been concentrating on meeting domestic needs and getting rid of LNG imports, moreover once it bounces back to gas exporter status in 2019, it will only use its own 2 LNG terminals in Damietta and Idku. Related: Has Oil Hit Rock Bottom?

Thus, a pertinent question arises – whose gas would be used to fill the EastMed pipeline? If the pipeline starts in offshore Cyprus, then it would be logical to expect that Cyprus’ gas bounty would be somehow utilized. Yet Cyprus has been lagging behind Egypt and Israel in its offshore endeavors and so far lacks a clear-cut giant field to base its supply future on. The two discoveries appraised heretofore, the 6-8 TCf Calypso operated by ENI and the 4.5 TCf Aphrodite operated by Noble Energy, are not enough to support the construction of a relatively expensive gas pipeline – all the more so as Noble has signed a provisional deal to send Aphrodite gas to Egypt’s Idku LNG terminal, most likely by means of a subsea gas pipeline. If we are to judge the viability of the EastMed on the current situation, there is only Calypso and Israel to fill the pipeline, as Greece’s gas export plans are close to zero on the probability scale.

The subsea section from Cyprus’ offshore zone to the island of Crete lies in depths of 3km and is stretched across a seismically active zone. But there is even more – should Turkey claim rights on Cyprus’ offshore hydrocarbon deposits (in February 2018 it sent warships to scare away ENI’s drilling rig that was on its way to xxx), the project is all but dead. This is far from an implausible scenario as President Erdogan stated that Turkey would never allow for the extortion of natural resources in the East Mediterranean by means of excluding Ankara and Northern Cyprus. Cognizant of the risks inherent in an East Mediterranean gas pipeline, there has been no interest from oil and gas majors to participate in the project. This is worrying as the $7 billion are expected to be financed from private investors, of which there is a palpable dearth – despite the EU’s 35 million funding to promote what it sees as a Project of Common Interest. Related: Wall Street Sees Oil Price Recovery In 2019

Yet even for the European Union, the EastMed gas pipeline presents a bit of a headache as its commissioning would render the Southern Gas Corridor, comprising so far only of Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) with a 10 BCm per year throughput capacity, irrelevant by creating a sort-of competitor. The price of the natural gas to be supplied via the EastMed pipeline might become the biggest obstacle of them all – if the cost of producing offshore Mediterranean gas turns out to be $4-5/MMBtu as expected, the addition of further transportation costs to it all would place EastMed supplied at the bottom range of European gas supply options (Russian gas supply is alleged to be profitable with price levels as low as $4/MMbtu). All this might change if any of the East Mediterranean countries were to discover a giant gas field, altering the economics of production or possibly even liquefaction.

In fact, 2019 will witness several key wells being drilled across Cyprus, Egypt and possibly even Israel. ExxonMobil’s testing of Block 10 in offshore Cyprus would largely point to the overall attractiveness of Cyprus as an oil and gas producing country – the drilling has already started, with results expected in Q1 2019. The ENI-operated Noor offshore field in Egypt, adjacent to Zohr, is a much hotter prospect with BP buying into it lately – most likely it will outshine all the other drilling sites in the Eastern Mediterranean, however, if a big discovery is confirmed, it would be most likely used for Egyptian purposes which run counter to the EastMed gas pipeline. Thus, EastMed’s only hope is that Israel 2nd international licensing round, results to be announced in July 2019, will elicit a couple of Leviathan-like finds that would make pipeline construction profitable. Until then, the prospects are rather bleak.

January 4, 2019 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | Leave a comment

Obama, ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood

By F. William Engdahl – New Eastern Outlook – 25.12.2018

There is a great uproar over the recent decision by US President Trump to pull US troops out of Syria, announcing his reason for doing so is that ISIS, the so-called Islamic State, has largely been defeated. What lies behind the decision and more important, what was behind the surprise emergence of ISIS across Syria in 2014 brings the spotlight to yet-classified documents of the Obama term. If the reorganized Justice Department is compelled to make these documents public in lawsuits or Freedom of Information requests, it could rock organizations such as the CIA and many in the Obama camp.

In 2010 the US Administration under President Barack Obama developed a top secret blueprint for the most ambitious and far-ranging series of US-backed regime change across the Islamic Middle East since World War I and the Anglo-French Sykes-Picot agreement. It was to set off a wave of wars and chaos, of failed states and floods of war refugees unimaginable to the most cynical veteran diplomat, and beyond the belief of most lay persons in the world.

In August, 2010, six months before Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution was launched by the Washington NGOs including the NED, the Soros Foundations, Freedom House and others, President Obama signed Presidential Study Directive-11 (PDS-11), ordering Washington government agencies to prepare for “change.” The change was to be a radical policy calling for Washington’s backing for the secret fundamentalist Islamic Muslim Brotherhood sect across the Middle East Muslim world, and with it, the unleashing of a reign of terror that would change the entire world.

According to US Congressional testimony of Peter Hoekstra, former Chairman of the US House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the Obama Administration PSD-11 directive–as of March 2017 still classified Top Secret–“ordered a government-wide reassessment of prospects for political reform in the Middle East and of the Muslim Brotherhood’s role in the process.”

A Grandiose Task Force

To draft the contents of PSD-11, a top secret task force was established within the Obama National Security Council (NSC), headed by Dennis Ross, Samantha Power, Gayle Smith, Ben Rhodes and Michael McFaul.

The PSD-11 Task Force members were remarkable in many regards. Samantha Power, who would go on to become Obama’s UN Ambassador and lead the demonizing of Russia after the CIA’s Ukraine Color Revolution coup in 2014, was to play an instrumental role in convincing President Obama that Libya’s Mohammar Qaddafi must be militarily removed for what she called “humanitarian reasons.” Dennis Ross, accused by Palestinian opponents of being “more pro-Israeli than the Israelis,” co-founded the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)-sponsored Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP). He was Special Assistant to President Obama and Senior Director at the NSC for the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, Pakistan and South Asia when he was part of the PSD-11 task force.

Gayle Smith would later go on in 2015 to head the USAID, the CIA-linked State Department agency that funneled US taxpayer millions to finance the NGOs of the Arab Spring and other Color Revolution regime changes. Michael McFaul, who once described himself as a “specialist on democracy, anti-dictator movements, revolutions,” was later named Obama’s Ambassador to Moscow where he coordinated opposition protests against Putin.

The Top Secret PSD-11 report that the Task Force drew up was partially revealed in a series of legal Freedom of Information Act requests to the State Department. Released official documents revealed that the NSC Task Force had concluded that the Muslim Brotherhood was a “viable movement” for the US Government to support throughout North Africa and the Middle East. A resulting Presidential directive ordered American diplomats to make contacts with top Muslim Brotherhood leaders and gave active support to the organization’s drive for power in key nations like Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Syria, at the 2011 outset of the “Arab Spring.” The PDS-11 secret paper came to the bizarre conclusion that the Muslim Brotherhood’s brand of political Islam, combined with its fervent nationalism, could lead to “reform and stability.” It was a lie, a lie well known to the Obama PSD-11 Task Force members.

The True Muslim Brotherhood

The Muslim Brotherhood or Ikhwan–Arabic for The Brotherhood–is a secret masonic-like organization with a covert  or underground terrorist arm and a public facade of “peaceful doing of charity.” It was founded in Egypt in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna who developed the cult’s guiding motto. The credo of his Society of Muslim Brothers was incorporated into a chant of six short phrases:

Allah is our goal; The Prophet is our Leader; The Qur’an is our Constitution; Jihad is our Way; Death in the service of Allah is the loftiest of our wishes; Allah is Great, Allah is Great.

Al-Banna created a secret or hidden arm of the Ikhwan in Egypt and later worldwide, known as the Special Section (al-nizam al-khass), or, as it was referred to by the British in Egypt, the Secret Apparatus (al-jihaz al-sirri). That was the military wing of the Brotherhood, in effect, the “assassination bureau.” Al-Banna taught his recruits, exclusively male, that “Jihad is an obligation of every Muslim.” He preached the nobility of “Death in the Service of Allah,” and wrote, Allah grants a “noble life to that nation which knows how to die a noble death.” He preached a death cult in which “Victory can only come with the mastery of the ‘Art of Death.’” For the Brotherhood that “mastery” was perfected in the killing of “infidels” in Jihad or Holy War in the name of Allah. The infidels could be other Muslims such as Shi’ite or Sufi who did not follow Al-Banna’s strict Sunni practice, or Christians.

Hasan Al-Banna called for adoption of the very strict Islamic Shari’a law, the complete segregation of male and female students, with a separate curriculum for girls, a prohibition of dancing, and a call for Islamic states to eventually unify in a Caliphate.

During World War II, leading Muslim Brotherhood figures spent exile from British-controlled Egypt by fleeing to Berlin where, among others, Al Banna’s close Muslim brotherhood ally, Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, worked intimately with the SS and Heinrich Himmler to create special Muslim Brotherhood terror units of the SS, so-called Handschar SS, to kill Soviet soldiers and Jews. In the 1950’s the CIA discovered the Nazi Muslim Brotherhood recruits in exile in postwar Munich and decided they could be “useful.”

Virtually every major Jihadist terrorist organization and leader has come out of the Muslim Brotherhood. Osama bin Laden, who worked for the CIA in Pakistan recruiting Jihadist Mujahideen to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan, was a Muslim Brotherhood member who was recruited by the CIA and Saudi Intelligence head Prince Turki al-Faisal, to create what came to be called Al Qaeda. Other known terrorist members of the Ikhwan were Al Qaeda’s Ayman Al-Zawahiri, and the blind Sheik Omar Abdul-Rahman who recently died in a US prison serving time for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Sheikh Omar was accused of conspiring to assassinate Egypt’s Mubarak and masterminding the Muslim Brotherhood assassination of Anwar Sadat in addition to the bombing of the World Trade Center.

The members of the Obama Administration National Security Council PSD-11 Task Force that recommended a US Government embrace of the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood in Islamic countries of the Arab Middle East, knew very well who they were dealing with. Since the 1950’s the CIA had worked with the Ikhwan around the world. Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, Al Qaeda in Iraq and in Syria, al Nusra Front in Syria, as well as the so-called Islamic State or ISIS all were created out of Muslim Brotherhood networks, changing names as a chameleon lizard changes color to suit its surroundings.

The origins of Al Qaeda in Iraq and Syria and later of ISIS , the murderous wars and chaos sweeping across the Arab Middle East and into Western Europe since 2010, could all be directly traced back to those Washington Obama policies, their so-called Arab Spring, coming from that August 2010 PSD-11 Presidential Task Force directive. This is what threatens to come out with declassification of US Justice Department files in the coming months. Some in Washington speak of treason, a strong word.

December 28, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments