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German officials join UK and US establishment worried how Trump-Putin summit will affect NATO

RT | July 7, 2018

German politicians are nervous over the meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, fearing the US president could take actions that are not in line with NATO, echoing concerns across the channel and the Atlantic.

Ahead of the meeting on July 16 in Helsinki, several German officials expressed their worry in interviews with newspapers throughout the country. The transatlantic coordinator for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition, Peter Beyer, told the Funke Mediengruppe newspapers that “there are great concerns in the alliance about what agreements Trump and Putin could reach” during the summit, and he lamented that NATO member states had not been included in the planning.

He said that Trump would let Putin “put one over on him” during the meeting in Helsinki, using the US president’s recent meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as justification for his rather frank comment.

“Kim has only made promises thus far. We don’t know if he has stopped enriching uranium. Only Trump has billed the summit as such as a success,” said Beyer, a member of Merkel’s Christian Democrats Union (CDU).

Beyer isn’t alone when it comes to concerns surrounding the meeting and the apparent belief that the two leaders can’t simply meet in the same way that other world leaders meet every day – and the same way German Chancellor Angela Merkel has met with both Trump and Putin on numerous occasions.

Christian Lindner, the head of Germany’s Free Democrats, told Deutschlandfunk in an interview that he did not trust Trump, and that his actions in the areas of trade and security were not in Washington’s long-term interest.

“He is too volatile…within 24 hours, Mr. Trump can change his position by 180 degrees,” Christian Lindner, the head of the Free Democrats, told Deutschlandfunk. He called for Europe, as the world’s largest single economic zone, to take a united stance and act as a counterweight to Trump and Putin. The EU is currently in loggerheads with the US over tariffs on aluminum, steel and other goods.

And then there’s Wolfgang Ischinger, the head of the Munich Security Conference and a former German envoy to Washington, who expressed concern that Trump might refuse to sign a communique at next week’s NATO summit in Brussels. “It cannot be ruled out,” he told Die Welt in a clear reference to Trump refusing to sign the document from G7 meeting in June.

Amid all this scaremongering, Merkel herself said in a Saturday video address that Germany “would like to have reasonable relations with Russia. That is why we will always have discussions in the NATO-Russia Council.” She expressed her support for NATO in the next breath, saying it is needed in the 21st century “as a guarantor of our transatlantic alliance,” and stating that it “must show determination to defend itself.”

The comments come as Trump continues to pressure NATO states to pay their fair share towards the alliance, as Washington currently accounts for more than two-thirds of all defense spending by NATO members. It is one of only six countries to meet the two percent GDP quota.

A page out of Britain’s book

The comments by German officials come less than two weeks after The Times reported that the UK also fears that Trump will undermine NATO by striking a “peace deal” with Putin during the meeting. It cited cabinet ministers who are worried that the Russian president could persuade Trump to downgrade US military commitments in Europe, thus compromising NATO countries’ defense against so-called “Russian aggression.”

Alexander Bartosh, a military expert and former Russian diplomat, told RT that such concerns would come as no surprise, as the UK “has been one of the most active supporters of a hard line towards Russia.” He added that the UK feels “a certain loss of its weight in Europe and tries to turn Russia into a kind of boogeyman, seeing the ‘Russian threat’ as a unifying factor for nations, looking for closer ties with London.”

Bartosh also noted that the meeting between the two leaders will merely include trying to find a “unifying agenda for the US and Russia because the relations of the two countries affect not only their own well-being, but international security as a whole… none of the sides will be aiming to undermine the integrity of NATO.”

Trouble on the homefront

It’s not just Europe that fears what could happen in the meeting between Trump and Putin. Even former CIA director John Brennan told MSNBC last week that Trump “is not sophisticated enough” to deal with Moscow.

“I must tell you the Russians will feign sincerity better than anyone I’ve ever dealt with in my life. So I would be very careful about being swept in and I think Mr. Trump is not sophisticated enough, unfortunately, to deal with these foreign leaders in a manner that is going to protect US national security interests. I think he’s naive in these issues,” he said.

In fact, many within the US establishment dread the possibility of the summit succeeding, political analyst and media and government affairs specialist Jim Jatras wrote in an op-ed for RT.

Jatras noted that Trump’s desire to actually get along with Russia sounded alarms long before he won the 2016 election. “US reconciliation with Russia would yank the rug out from under the phony justifications for spending hundreds of billions of dollars annually to counter a ‘threat’ that ceased to exist over a quarter century ago,” he wrote.

Journalist Neil Clark voiced a similar point in his own op-ed for RT, stating that a successful summit simply won’t do, because Russia “must always be regarded as the enemy – unless of course it does absolutely everything the West demands of it.” And while he noted that positive moves between Moscow and Washington would be celebrated by ordinary folks, he stated that defense industry lobbyists wouldn’t be nearly as enthused.

Read more:

Who’s afraid of a Trump-Putin summit? – by Stephen Cohen

US establishment in hysterics that Trump-Putin summit might succeed

July 7, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

Germany’s AfD Party Passes Resolution to Lift EU Sanctions Against Syria

By Suliman Mulhem – Sputnik – July 4, 2018

The Alternative for Germany (AfD) Party is continuing its efforts to repatriate Syrian refugees, formally urging the German federal government and the EU to lift their debilitating economic sanctions against the Arab Republic.

Earlier this month at a party convention in Augsburg, AfD politicians passed a resolution calling for the lifting of EU economic sanctions against Syria in a bid to aid Damascus’ ongoing efforts to stabilize the entirety of the country and provide adequate public services, according to a party press release sent to Sputnik reporter Suliman Mulhem.

The resolution was submitted by Dr. Christian Blex and a number of other party officials who visited Syria in March to assess the situation on the ground for themselves.

Presenting the resolution at a party conference, Bundestag member Dr. Blex warned of the detrimental effects of the sanctions on the availability of healthcare for Syrians who decided to remain in their home country, especially those on low incomes and with limited resources to seek treatment abroad.

“They [the sanctions] target human beings who the European states allegedly want to protect. The EU sanctions against Syria are a cause of flight; its removal would even benefit Germany’s economy,” Dr. Blex said.

“We demand Germany be no longer complicit in the sanctions, which are an instrument of power against the current government. A prolongation of the suffering of the Syrian people to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad is incompatible with AfD-principles and not in the German national interest,” the resolution reads.

Moreover, the resolution called on the German government and the EU itself to reinstate diplomatic relations with Damascus to “find a solution which secures the country’s peaceful rebuilding process,” highlighting that rebuilding Syria and reviving its national economy is firmly in Germany’s interests, as it’s necessary for the repatriation of Syrian migrants.

AfD members also passed a resolution on July 1 condemning the tripartite aggression by the UK, US and France against Syria earlier this year as a “violation of international law.”

The coordinated strikes were carried in retaliation to an alleged chemical attack which was blamed on the Syrian government, despite Damascus staunchly denying any involvement and having no motive to carry out such an attack.

READ MORE:

EU Sanctions Have ‘Disastrous’ Effects on Syria’s Civilian Population – AfD MP

July 4, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | Leave a comment

German Protesters Fed Up With US Wars Blockade Ramstein Air Base

Sputnik – 02.07.2018

About 2,500 people gathered outside the largest US base in Germany over the weekend as the Trump administration considered a possible US withdrawal from the country.

Sputnik Deutschland contributor Marcel Joppa was on the scene for Saturday’s protest, joining people of all ages including seniors as old as 80 years old, who endured the summer heat and faced down the police to show their discontent with US military operations launched from German soil.

Organized by the “Stop Air Base Ramstein” civil group, the protest was attended by several politicians, most notably Sara Wagenknecht, the leader of The Left Party faction in the Bundestag.

Addressing the crowd, Wagenknecht spoke out on the issue of drone warfare, “which although not written about much in the big press continues to take place.”

“Kill orders are arranged at the touch of a button. These are just outrageous crimes! And it is unacceptable that they be supported here, from German soil, in any way!” the politician stressed.

Pointing out that the bombings of Iraq and Afghanistan were carried out from German territory, Wagenknecht argued that there shouldn’t be a single German region where the Germany Constitution, which does not allow wars of aggression or extraterritorial killings by drones, does not apply.

“What is happening here is a case for our counterintelligence bodies, if they are to do their jobs properly,” the politician said. “There are over 1,000 US military bases around the world, and none of them exist to ensure the security of those countries,” she added.

Demanding that Berlin pursue a more independent foreign policy, Wagenknecht criticized Chancellor Angela Merkel, accusing her of being too submissive to the US.

The protesters were also addressed by writer and peace activist Eugen Drewermann, who reminded them that the US had bombed seven predominantly Muslim countries since 2001.

“We are involved in these actions, and we are partly responsible. We must finally reject this policy. We Germans have every reason to press the brake, with all our might, to correct old mistakes,” he said.

Unfortunately, Drewermann noted, NATO had always viewed Russia as an enemy, emphasizing the immense disparity in the number of military bases the two countries operate internationally.

Several dozen protesters set off for the front of the central entrance to the air base, where they sat down on the asphalt and blocked traffic. The police soon sounded a warning that the protest would be broken up and that those who resisted would be detained. Participants began singing songs and shouting slogans, including “For international solidarity!” and “Why are we doing this? For the sake of our children!”

About a dozen people have been detained, including an elderly American couple.

Saturday’s protests came on the heels of reports of a US Department of Defense study on the consequences of a major drawdown of US forces in Germany. The study was initiated after President Trump expressed his interest in the pullout at a meeting with military officials earlier this year, according to officials speaking to The Washington Post. Trump was reportedly taken aback by the cost of maintaining the estimated 35,000 active-duty troops stationed in the European country.

The US has maintained a presence in Germany since the end of World War II. During the Cold War, the US presence was justified as necessary to deter the Soviet Union, which had troops in East Germany. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, and the last of the former Soviet contingent was withdrawn in 1994, but the US bases remained, even during a period of unprecedentedly warm relations between Moscow and Washington in the 1990s and most of the 2000s.

July 2, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , , | 2 Comments

Immigration Divides Europe and the German Left

By Diana Johnstone  | Consortium News | June 19, 2018

Freedom of movement is the founding value of the European Union. The “four freedoms” are inscribed in the binding EU treaties and directives: free movement of goods, services, capital and persons (labor) among the Member States.

Of course, the key freedom here is that of capital, the indispensable condition of neoliberal globalization. It enables international finance to go and do whatever promises to be profitable, regardless of national boundaries. The European Union is the kernel of the worldwide “Open Society”, as promoted by financier George Soros.

However, extended to the phenomenon of mass immigration, the doctrine of “free movement” is disuniting the Union.

A German Crisis

Starting in 2011, millions of Syrian refugees fled to neighboring Turkey as a result of the Western-sponsored war to overthrow the Assad regime. By 2015, Turkish president Erdogan was insisting that Europe must share the burden, and soon was threatening the European Union with opening the floodgates of refugees if his conditions were not met.

In August 2015, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that Germany would accept all genuine refugees. Germany had already taken in over 400,000 refugees, and another 400,000 were assumed to be on the way – if not more. Although addressed to Syrians, Merkel’s invitation was widely interpreted as an unlimited invitation to anyone who wanted to come Germany for whatever reason. In addition to a smaller number of refugee families, long lines of young men from all points east streamed through the Balkans, heading for Germany or Sweden.

The criminal destruction of the government of Libya in 2011 opened the floodgates to immigrants from Africa and beyond. The distinction between refugees and economic migrants was lost in the crowd.

Germans themselves were sharply polarized between those who welcomed the commitment to Christian charity and those who dreaded the probable effects. The differences were too highly charged emotionally, too subjective to be easily discussed in a rational way. Finally, it depends on whether you think of immigrants as individuals or as a mass. Concerning individuals, compassion reigns. You want to get to know that person, make a friend, help a fellow human being.

As a mass, it is different because you have to think also of social results and you do not know whom you are getting. On the one hand, there are the negative effects: labor market competition which lowers wages, the cost of caring for people with no income, the potential for antisocial behavior on the part of alienated individuals, rivalry for housing space, cultural conflicts, additional linguistic and educational problems. But for those whose ideal is a world without borders, the destruction of the oppressive nation state and endless diversity, unlimited immigration is a welcome step in the direction of their utopia.

These conflicting attitudes rule out any consensus.

As other EU countries were called upon to welcome a proportionate share of the refugee influx, resentment grew that a German chancellor could unilaterally make such a dramatic decision affecting them all. The subsequent effort to impose quotas of immigrants on member states has run up against stubborn refusal on the part of Eastern European countries whose populations, unlike Germany, or Western countries with an imperialist past, are untouched by a national sense of guilt or responsibilities toward inhabitants of former colonies.

After causing a growing split between EU countries, the immigrant crisis is now threatening to bring down Merkel’s own Christian Democratic (CDU) government. Her own interior minister, Horst Seehofer, from the conservative Bavarian Christian Social Union, has declared that he “can’t work with this woman” (Merkel) on immigration policy and favors joining together with Austria and Italy in a tough policy to stop migration.

The conflict over immigration affects even the relatively new leftist party, Die Linke (The Left).

A good part of the European left, whatever its dissatisfaction with EU performance, is impregnated with its free movement ideology, and has interiorized “open borders” as a European “value” that must be defended at all costs. It is forgotten that EU “freedom of movement” was not intended to apply to migrants from outside the Union. It meant freedom to move from one EU state to another. As an internationally recognized human right, freedom of movement refers solely to the right of a citizen to leave and return to her own country.

In an attempt to avoid ideological polarization and define a clear policy at the Left party’s congress early this month, a working group presented a long paper setting out ideas for a “humane and social regulated leftist immigration policy”. The object was to escape from the aggressive insistence on the dichotomy: either you are for immigration or you are against it, and if you are against it, you must be racist.

The group paper observed that there are not two but three approaches to immigration: for it, against it, and regulation. Regulation is the humane and socially beneficial way.

While reiterating total support for the right of asylum including financial and social aid for all persons fleeing life-threatening situations, the paper insisted on the need to make the distinction between asylum seekers and economic migrants. The latter should be welcomed within the capacity of communities to provide them with a decent life: possibilities of work, affordable housing and social integration. They noted that letting in all those who hope to improve their economic standing might favor a few individual winners but would not favor the long-term interests either of the economic losers or of the country of origin, increasing its dependence and even provoking a brain drain as educated professionals seek advancement in a richer country.

There was hope that this would settle the issue. This did not happen. Instead, the party’s most popular leader found herself the target of angry emotional protests due to her defense of this sensible approach.

Sahra and Oskar

As elsewhere in Europe, the traditional left has drastically declined in recent years. The long-powerful German Social Democratic Party (SPD) has lost its working-class base as a result of its acceptance, or rather, promotion of neoliberal socioeconomic policies. The SPD has been absorbed by the Authoritarian Center, reduced to junior partner in Angela Merkel’s conservative government.

Die Linke, formed in 2007 by the merger of leftist groups in both East and West Germany, describes itself as socialist but largely defends the social democratic policies abandoned by the SPD. It is the obvious candidate to fill the gap. In elections last September, while the SPD declined to 20%, Die Linke slightly improved its electoral score to almost 10%. But its electorate is largely based in the middle class intelligentsia. The party that captured the most working-class votes was the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), considered far right populist – largely because its growing success at the polls is due to popular rejection of mass immigration.

There are two way of looking at this.

One way, the Clintonite way, is to dismiss the working class as a bunch of deplorables who do not deserve to have their interests defended. If they oppose immigration, it can only be because they have impure souls, besmirched by racism and “hate”.

Another way is to consider that the grievances of ordinary people need to be listened to, and that they need to be presented with clear, well-defined, humane political choices, instead of being dismissed and insulted.

This is the viewpoint of Sahra Wagenknecht, currently co-leader of Die Linke in the Bundestag.

Wagenknecht in the Bundestag  (Photo – Michele Tantussi/Getty Images)

Wagenknecht was born in East Germany 48 years ago to an Iranian father and German mother. She is highly educated, with a Ph.D. in economics and is author of books on the young Marx’s interpretation of Hegel, on “The Limits of Choice: Saving Decisions and Basic Needs in Developed Countries” and “Prosperity Without Greed”. The charismatic Sahra has become one of the most popular politicians in Germany. Polls indicate that a quarter of German voters would vote for her as Chancellor.

But there is a catch: her party, Die Linke. Many who would vote for her would not vote for her party, and many in her own party would be reluctant to support her. Why? Immigration.

Sahra’s strongest supporter is Oskar Lafontaine, 74, her partner and now her husband. A scientist by training with years of political experience in the leadership of the SPD, Lafontaine was a strong figure in the 1980s protest movement against nuclear missiles stationed in Germany and remains an outspoken critic of U.S. and NATO militarism – a difficult position in Germany. In 1999 he resigned as finance minister because of his disagreement with the neoliberal policy turn of SPD Chancellor Gerhard Schoeder. He is a consistent critic of financial capitalism and the euro, calling for a change of European monetary policy that would permit selective devaluation and thus relieve the economically weaker member states of their crushing debt burden.

After leaving the SPD in 2005, Lafontaine went on to co-found Die Linke, which absorbed the post-East German Party of Democratic Socialism led by lawyer Gregor Gysi. A few years later he withdrew into the political background, encouraging the rising career of his much younger partner Sahra Wagenknecht.

Lafontaine can be likened to Jeremy Corbyn in Britain and Jean-Luc Mélenchon as a left leader who has retained basic social and antiwar principles from the past and aspires to carry them into the future, against the rising right-wing tide in Europe.

The Wagenknecht-Lafontaine couple advocate social policies favorable to the working class, demilitarization, peaceful relations with Russia and the rest of a multipolar world. Both are critical of the euro and its devastating effects on Member State economies. They favor regulated immigration. Critical of the European Union, they belong to what can be called the national left, which believes that progressive policies can still be carried out on the national level.

The Globalizing Left

Die Linke is split between the national left, whose purpose is to promote social policies within the framework of the nation-state, and the globalization left, which considers that important policy decisions must be made at a higher level than the nation.

As co-leader of the Linke fraction in the Bundestag, Wagenknecht champions the national left, while another woman, the party co-chair Katja Kipping, also an academic of East German origin, speaks for the globalization left.

In a July 2016 article criticizing Brexit, Kipping made it clear that for her the nation is an anachronism unsuitable for policy making. Like others of her persuasion, she equates the nation with “nationalism”. She also immediately identifies any criticism of mass immigration with scapegoating: “Nationalism doesn’t improve our lives, it makes the poor only poorer, it takes nothing from the rich, but instead blames refugees and migrants for all present misery.”

The idea that social reform must henceforth take place only on the European level has paralyzed left parties for decades. The most extreme of the globalizing left shove their expectations even beyond the European Union in hopes of eventual revolution at the global level, as preached by Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt in their joint books Empire and Multitude

According to Negri, an alarmingly influential Italian theorist who has been dead wrong ever since the 1970s, the final great global revolution will result from the spontaneous self-liberation of the “multitude”. This is a sort of pie in the sky, projecting hopes beyond the here and now to some desirable future made inevitable by the new immaterial means of production (Negri’s boneless imitation of Marxism). Whether or not they have read him, many anarchist anti-globalist notions of The End Times are in harmony with Negri’s optimistically prophetic view of globalization: it may be bad now, but if it goes far enough, it will be perfect.

Since the globalization left considers the nation state inapt to make the revolution, its abolition is seen as a step in the right direction – which happens to coincide with the worldwide takeover of international financial capital. Its core issue, and the one it uses to condemn its adversaries in the national left, is immigration. Katya Kipping advocates “open borders” as a moral obligation. When critics point out that this is not a practical suggestion, the globalization left replies that it doesn’t matter, it is a principle that must be upheld for the future.

To make her policy line even more unrealistic, Kipping calls for both “open borders” and a guaranteed minimum income for everyone.

It is easy to imagine both the enthusiastic response to such a proposal in every poor country in the world and its horrified rejection by German voters.

What can motivate leaders of a political party to make such flagrantly unpopular and unrealizable proposals, guaranteed to alienate the vast majority of the electorate?

Kipling: Globalized immigration in line with international finance. (Getty)

One apparent source of such fantasy can be attributed to a certain post-Christian, post-Auschwitz bad conscience prevalent in sectors of the intelligentsia, to whom politics is more like a visit to the confession booth than an effort to win popular support. Light a candle and your sins will be forgiven! Many local charitable organizations actually put their beliefs in practice by providing material aid to migrants. But the task is too great for volunteers; at present proportions it requires governmental organization.

Another, more virulent strain of the open border advocates is found among certain anarchists, conscious or unconscious disciples of Hardt and Negri, who see open borders as a step toward destroying the hated nation state, drowning despised national identities in a sea of “minorities”, thereby hastening the advent of worldwide revolution.

The decisive point is that both these tendencies advocate policies which are perfectly compatible with the needs of international financial capital. Large scale immigration by diverse ethnic communities unwilling or unable to adapt the customs of the host country (which is often the case in Europe today, where the host country may be despised for past sins), weakens the ability of society to organize and resist the dictates of financial capital. The newcomers may not only destabilize the situation of already accepted immigrant populations, they can introduce unexpected antagonisms and conflicts. In both France and Germany, groups of Eritrean migrants have come to blows with Afghan migrants, and other prejudices and vendettas lurk, not to mention dangerous elements of religious fanaticism.

In foreign policy, the globalization left tends to accept the political and media mainstream criticism of Wagenknecht as a Putin apologist for her position regarding Syria and Russia. The globalist left sometimes seems to be more intent on arranging the rest of the world to suit their standards than finding practical solutions to problems at home. Avoiding war is also a serious problem to be dealt with at the national level.

Despite the acrimonious debates at the June 8 to 10 party congress, Die Linke did not split. But faced with the deadlock on important questions, Wagenknecht and her supporters are planning to launch a new trans-party movement in September, intended to attract disenchanted fugitives from the SPD among others in order to debate and promote specific issues rather than to hurl labels at each other. For the left, the question today is not merely the historic, “What is to be done?” but rather a desperate, Can anything be done?

And if they don’t do it, somebody else will.


Diana Johnstone is the author of Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO, and Western Delusions. Her new book is Queen of Chaos: the Misadventures of Hillary Clinton. The memoirs of Diana Johnstone’s father Paul H. Johnstone, From MAD to Madness, was published by Clarity Press, with her commentary. She can be reached at diana.johnstone@wanadoo.fr .

June 19, 2018 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | Leave a comment

Merkel agrees with Netanyahu that Iran is a ‘concern’ for Israel’s security

RT | June 4, 2018

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday that she agreed with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Iran’s activities in the Middle East are a concern, particularly for Israel’s security. She made the statement after a meeting in Berlin.

“We agree that the question of Iran’s regional influence is worrying, especially for Israel’s security,” the chancellor said.

Netanyahu’s European tour this week follows the US withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal which France, Germany and Britain have said they will continue to respect.

The Israeli leader is also expected to meet French President Emmanuel Macron and possibly British Prime Minister Theresa May to discuss ways to stop what Netanyahu called “Iran’s nuclear ambitions and regional expansionism,” Reuters said.

June 4, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 1 Comment

Western leaders back in Russia as tensions appear to ease

East-West relations seem to have changed over past 10 days, as three major Western leaders attend St Petersburg forum

By M.K. Bhadrakumar | Asia Times | May 28, 2018

East-West relations have transformed over the past 10-day period. Russia’s isolation from the West after the Maidan coup in Kiev appears to have warmed as abruptly as it began.

Three major Western leaders – German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe – visited Russia during the period since May 18, mainly to attend the St Petersburg Economic Forum. But they had one mantra to chant: Russia is an indispensable partner – and one offer to make – despite sanctions, economic and political ties with Russia are possible and necessary.

On the other hand, US President Donald Trump’s critics, who accuse him of causing a trans-Atlantic rift, have had a rethink, since he may have instead triggered an overall easing of East-West tensions, as America’s European partners dust off their “Ostpolitik” to seek an apparent rapprochement with Russia.

Of course, the three Western leaders who traveled to Russia were not acting in concert. Merkel, Macron, Abe – each had a specific agenda with Russia’s Vladimir Putin. They were not interested in taking advantage of Russia’s tense relations with the US. Their intuition probably told them that things have come to such a pass in world politics that high-level contact between Russia and America might now be only a matter of time.

Equally, Putin was not inclined to turn the visits of three top Western leaders into an “anti-American” platform to exploit the current trans-Atlantic rift. Putin’s focus was on what these leaders could bring to the Russian economy by way of trade and investment. But in political terms, as much as Russia sizes up Germany, France and Japan as partners, the US still remains the partner of its heart’s desire.

Suffice to say, Russia grapples with the geopolitical reality that while the trans-Atlantic rift could become the “new normal,” an outright rupture between the US and its European allies or an unraveling of the Western alliance is not in the cards. Again, in the final analysis, without the United States’ participation, it is impractical to address issues such as Syria, the Iran nuclear problem, Ukraine, etc.

Macron audacious, Merkel wary

Between Merkel and Macron, the latter seemed far more eager and audacious to turn a new leaf in relations with Russia. France’s Total has taken US$2.5 billion in equity in Russian major Novatek’s Yamal LNG 2 project in the Siberian Arctic (with an option to double it). Macron promised to overtake German investments in Russia ($18 billion). He sought a new “mechanism” to solve the Syrian crisis; he stated France’s intention to protect its companies operating in Iran; and he even harked back to the defeat of Nazism to invoke France’s and Russia’s common destiny as United Nations veto powers and world leaders.

Nonetheless, Moscow is yet to figure out the potential of Macron, who began one year ago as the alpha male vis-à-vis Trump but went on to invite the latter as guest of honor on Bastille Day and become his best friend in the Western world, and is now presenting himself as an incorrigible Gaullist. Putin wore a quizzical look as Macron plunged gustily into an extraordinary speech lasting half an hour at the improbable forum of their joint press conference in St Petersburg on May 25.

The point is, Gaullism didn’t survive Charles de Gaulle. Will Gaullism-2 survive the second year of Macron’s seven-year presidency? Time only can tell. How far will Macron go out on a limb to drop the European Union’s hostile sanctions against Russia or to break loose from the West’s strategy to provoke Russia? Actually, he didn’t forget to add that France remains all the while a US ally.

As for Germany, Russia has always viewed it as the pace-setter in the EU. But there is a catch here too, since Merkel was also a midwife to the Maidan in Kiev (where it all began) and worked shoulder to shoulder with Barack Obama to erect a harsh sanctions regime against Russia. Those were halcyon days when Merkel was de facto leader of the EU and the champion of the liberal international order – “The Iron Frau” who doubled up as the “Matti” – Otto von Bismarck and Mother Teresa at the same time.

Things have changed since then. Obama has left the stage; the migrant problem became controversial and eventually diminished Merkel politically (despite the brilliant performance of the German economy); and she is besieged today by several negative factors. Brexit came out of the blue; the Franco-German axis that was integral to her pet project of European integration lost verve; and America First began incessantly battering Germany (and Merkel personally). To borrow a poignant metaphor from Mikhail Gorbachev over the sad plight of managers of Soviet state enterprises in the era of perestroika, Merkel is afraid to leave the open cage and take wing and fly into the firmament.

Perhaps her timidity is due to the fear that assertiveness may provoke accusations of Germany’s inordinate geopolitical ambitions triggering another tragic cycle of history (“German Question”), and due to a genuine distrust of Russia among Germany’s political class, which is weaned on Euro-Atlanticism. But it is there. As top Moscow pundit Fyodor Lukyanov wrote recently, in Berlin “change is feared.”

Within earshot of the visiting Western leaders, Putin again signaled his interest in a full-bodied Russian-American dialogue. But alas, Washington speaks in multiple voices. Meanwhile, bad tidings have arrived from Syria – an attempted drone attack on Hmeimim air base; a US threat to take “firm and appropriate measures” against any Syrian operations against extremist groups ensconced in southwest Syria; and the killing of four Russian military personnel in Dier ez-Zor on Sunday.

If only Russian wishes had wings, Americans should have been better soccer players. That might have just about brought them into the finale of the FIFA World Cup – and Trump to Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium on July 15 in front of a capacity crowd of 87,000 fans in one of the most picturesque districts of the Russian capital with the Moskva River flowing gently alongside the stadium, and Putin sitting beside him, with no aides present, for a full 90 minutes.

May 28, 2018 Posted by | Economics | , , , | Leave a comment

“Al Awda” (The Return) Boarded & Searched by German Coast Guard en route to Kiel

 Freedom Flotilla Coalition – May 23, 2018

Just before noon local time, the Freedom Flotilla vessel Al Awda (The Return) was boarded by the German Coast Guard, at the orders of the German Ministry of Interior.

They collected all the passports on board, wrote down everyone’s personal data, searched the vessel thoroughly, asked for detailed information about ports of call along the way to Gaza, and inquired about the whereabouts of the Swedish sailing boats traveling with us in parallel.

The Scandinavian crew on this ship are all veterans of earlier Freedom Flotillas and attested that they have previously been harassed by other Coast Guards from European countries.

Of course, our vessel is in international waters and we are doing nothing illegal – and this is by no means standard procedure.

The massive German Coast Guard ship had been tailing Al Awda all morning, and finally sent a rubber dinghy with a crew of four to check it out.

We are within an hour-and-a-half of Kiel, having arrived early, and are moving slowly so that the sailboats can catch up with us and we can all arrive in unison at Kiel harbour.

Reporting from the high seas off the coast of northern Germany.

May 23, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , | Leave a comment

Spend on schools or bow to US demands? German politicians debate NATO strategy

RT | May 19, 2018

US President Donald Trump has accused Germany of not contributing enough to the NATO budget – but will German Chancellor Angela Merkel dance to Washington’s tune?

Politicians on both sides of Germany’s political spectrum shared their views with RT.

On Thursday, Trump warned NATO members that they will be “dealt with” if they fail to fulfill their financial obligations to the US-led military alliance. Germany was singled out as one of those said to be delinquent on their obligations.

Speaking to RT, Martin Dolzer of Die Linke (Left Party) said that buying into Trump’s ideas may send the world order “into chaos,” citing US policy in the Middle East as evidence. Dolzer stressed that Germans do not want war, and said that more vital issues should be on agenda instead of boosting military spending.

“The German population does not want any more military expenses, the German population needs money for kindergartens, for education, for the growth of civil society organizations and the social sector,” Dolzer said. “There has to be a change. And the people in Germany, I think most of them want this change, but the government does not follow it.”

Though Merkel has shown no interest to raising defense spending, Alternative for Germany (AfD) chief whip Hansjorg Mueller believes she is poised to “bend down before the wish of the big brother” – a reference to Trump and the US.

“Our government is the government of a vassal state and governments of vassal states always obey to the wish of the big brother,” Mueller said.

Mueller believes a rise in defense spending would only further split German society, which is already divided over the chancellor’s immigration policy, and significantly weaken Merkel’s position. “We are viewing the doom of her leadership over Germany,” he told RT.

Apart from its reluctance in meeting Washington’s demands, Berlin is also at odds with its ally over the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany. The US is opposed to the project and signaled that it might be targeted by sanctions. The measures could also affect German companies.

The situation with the project is “pure blackmail,” said Mueller, adding that he hopes Merkel does not give in the “dead-end game.”

Meanwhile, Dolzer believes the pipeline is necessary for stability. “If we want to have stable organization of the industry this is very, very necessary to build this Nord Stream pipeline and to not follow the sanctions,” Dolzer said, adding that the US government must be reminded that it cannot act like “a monopoly power” around the globe.

May 19, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , | 1 Comment

EU Sanctions Have ‘Disastrous’ Effects on Syria’s Civilian Population – AfD MP

By Suliman Mulhem | Sputnik | April 30, 2018

Earlier this year, a delegation from the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party visited Syria to gain a better understanding of the situation in government-held areas of the war-torn country. The delegation’s leader Christian Blex, a member of the Bundestag, spoke to Sputnik reporter and columnist Suliman Mulhem about his findings.

Dr. Blex said the delegation “felt safe” throughout their tour of Syria – which included the cities of Damascus, Homs and Aleppo – while noting the presence of checkpoints manned by troops from the Syrian Army to clamp down on terrorists and smugglers attempting to transport armaments to militant-held parts of the country.

“The people on the streets looked completely normal and relaxed. The security situation seemed to me very good, at least beyond the reach of the artillery of the ‘moderate’ terrorists. But East Ghouta is fortunately free now, so Damascus cannot be targeted by mortars and rockets anymore as it is out of range,” Dr. Blex said in an interview with Sputnik on April 30.

On the topic of the repatriation of Syrian refugees in Europe, he said that the religious leaders of the Arab state, in addition to representatives of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) in Aleppo, called for the return of externally displaced Syrians.

“During our stay, we found no doubt that the return of Syrians of any religious affiliation is eagerly awaited.

When asked for his thoughts on the EU’s sanctions against Syria, Dr. Blex cited a 2016 report from the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) which described the sanctions as “some of the most complicated and far-reaching sanctions ever imposed” and warned that they “punish ordinary Syrians and make the work of aid agencies almost impossible.”

The German lawmaker said his delegation saw the adverse implications of the sanctions on civilians during their visit to Syria.

“We were able to convince ourselves of the disastrous effect of the sanctions on the civilian population. In particular, the head of the University Hospital of Aleppo drew out attention to their devastating impact on the health system. Medicines and medical equipment, such as x-ray equipment, are no longer available. A spokesman for the Syrian Arab Red Crescent aid organization lamented that barely any more baby milk or child prostheses exist,” Dr. Blex told Sputnik.

“Extending the suffering of the Syrian people to topple President Bashar al-Assad is incompatible with my humanitarian principles and certainly not in German interests. The inhibiting effect of the sanctions on the Syrian economy also increases the pressure for migration to Germany. The sanctions will deliberately hinder the reconstruction of the country,” the lawmaker added.

Dr. Blex went on to outline how lifting the anti-Syria sanctions and providing economic assistance in the reconstruction phase will serve Germany’s interests.

“Every year, Germany pays 40 to 50 billion euros for the accommodation of the so-called refugees. These people will for the most part be permanently dependent on social benefits. Of course, therefore, it makes more sense to support the reconstruction in Syria in order to offer these people the opportunity to return to their homeland and earn a living there,” he concluded.

See Also:

Charity Activist: ‘Western Sanctions Against Syria Have Caused More Suffering Than War’

April 30, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Hamas condemns Bundestag’s support for ‘Israel’ to be a Jewish state

Palestine Information Center – April 29, 2018

GAZA – Hamas strongly condemned the German Bundestag’s call for the German government to support recognizing the Israeli occupation as a Jewish state over the land of historic Palestine.

In a statement on Sunday, Hamas said “At the time the Palestinians expected a strong support from the Federal Republic of Germany on the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, the Bundestag did not mention the seven-decade long aggression of the Israeli occupation on our people, and it did not denounce the Israeli racist and fascist policies”.

Today, the Israeli occupation as an occupying power, continues usurping Palestinian land in favor of illegal settlements, arrests thousands without trial, many of them are children, women and patients, Judaizes Jerusalem and forcefully deports Jerusalemites from their homes and imposes an unjust siege on more than two million Palestinians in Gaza.

The siege on Gaza is considered by all international institutions and international laws as a collective punishment that amounts to a crime against humanity.

You, the Bundestag, described the Israeli occupation as a “state that embraces western European values.” Do these values accept, for example, the killing of dozens and wounding of thousands of peaceful demonstrators, most of them children, who demand their right to a decent life and return to their homes?

This decision destabilizes the region and the world, as well as it gives the occupation a green light to continue its aggression against our people, violation of international law and encourages the displacement of the rest of our people.

Hamas is wondering whether accepting a Jewish state is in line with the democratic values on which Germany was founded after WWII, which basically do not consider differences between citizens on the basis of race, color or religion.

Therefore, we demand that the Bundestag cancel this decision and take positions that achieve justice for our people after decades of suffering, which Europe, and foremost Germany, is a major cause of it.

April 29, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

What if Trump dumps the Iran deal?

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | April 28, 2018

The last big European effort to dissuade US President Donald Trump from abandoning the 2015 Iran nuclear pact ended without success Friday with the ‘working visit’ by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the White House. Earlier in the week, French President Emmanuel Macron also tried his hand. Perhaps, all that remains is a phone call from British PM Theresa May to Trump.

Macron and Merkel met with no success. Macron floated an ingenious idea of linking the Syrian conflict, Iran’s ballistic missile program, Iran’s regional policies and the nuclear deal and negotiating a new package deal. But Trump didn’t sound enthusiastic. He’d rather tear up the Iran deal and move on. Macron estimated finally that Trump would act for “domestic reasons.” Mike Pompeo, the newly appointed secretary of state, also said Friday that the US is unlikely to remain in the deal.

At the joint press conference with Merkel at the White House on Friday, Trump was rhetorical and took a hard line. Merkel, while conceding that the 2015 pact might not have been a perfect deal, flagged that it was a “first step” that significantly slowed down Iran’s nuclear program and left scope for improvement – “one piece of the mosaic, one building block, if you like, on which we can build up this structure.”

Indeed, the remarks by Macron and Merkel vaguely hint at their acceptance that the 2015 pact needs to be re-negotiated. If so, they have caved in to Trump’s bullying. On the other hand, what they said does not reflect the common European Union position. The EU has never discussed the idea of a new Iran deal. The vast majority of EU countries seem perfectly pleased with the implementation of the 2015 deal and see no reason to reopen the agreement that was painstakingly negotiated. Any shift in the EU stance will need unanimity of opinion, which is highly unlikely to favor a re-negotiation of the 2015 deal.

The big question is what Iran’s reaction is likely to be to Trump’s decision to leave the nuclear deal. The Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif spoke on this in a conversation with Robin Wright at the New Yorker magazine. This is what Wright wrote:

  • Tehran has three broad choices if Trump opts out, according to Zarif. In the first, Iran could withdraw from the deal, terminate compliance, and resume—even increase—its uranium enrichment… “America never should have feared Iran producing a nuclear bomb,” Zarif said. “But we will pursue vigorously our nuclear enrichment.”
  • Iran’s second option exploits a dispute mechanism in the deal, which allows any party to file a formal complaint with a commission established to adjudicate violations. Iran has filed eleven complaints—to Federica Mogherini, the E.U.’s foreign-policy chief, who heads the commission—citing U.S. violations on three different counts, Zarif said. The process allows forty-five days for resolution. “The objective of the process is to bring the United States into compliance,” Zarif said.
  • Iran’s third option is the most drastic: the country could decide to walk away from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, or N.P.T… In Tehran, debate is still intense about which option Iran should choose. “Iran is not a monolith,” Zarif said.

The growing impression is that the 2015 deal cannot be saved. But then, there is a flip side to it. One, Trump has shown that his strident rhetoric need not necessarily be followed by corresponding action. The North Korean example is in front of us. Two, Washington never really implemented the Iran deal. So, what difference does it make if Trump pulls out?

In the downstream, the US options are very limited. More US sanctions? Well, Iran has lived with US sanctions for four decades. Regime change? Just forget it. Military attack? Simply suicidal. Then, there are the ground realities. Iran is well entrenched in the so-called northern tier of the Middle East (Iraq, Syria and Lebanon) where the Shi’ite predominance is a geopolitical reality. Above all, there are other players in that region also who don’t like the US presence.

Importantly, Russia and China will never cooperate with Trump on the Iran file. The only significant variable, if at all, could be Europe’s implementation of the deal, which is of course crucial for Tehran. This was how Wright concluded: “I asked Zarif if there was a prospect, if the deal dies, that Iran would negotiate again with the United States. “Diplomacy never dies,” he told me. “But it doesn’t mean that there is only one avenue for diplomacy, and that is the United States.” Whatever Iran’s final decision, he said, it “won’t be very pleasant to the United States. That I can say. That’s a consensus.” Read Wright’s piece here.

April 28, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

German parliament endorses draft bill recognizing Israel as Jewish State

MEMO | April 27, 2018

The German Bundestag endorsed a draft bill that recognizes the Jewish State of Israel, Thursday.

The bill states that the two- state solution is the only solution to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and stated that Israel’s security and sovereignty is key to Germany’s foreign and security policy.

Three parliamentary blocs; the Christian and Democratic Union led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Socialist Party and the Free Democratic Party submitted the draft bill on the 70th anniversary of Israel establishment.

The draft bill stipulates that the government and its partners in the international community should work towards a two-state solution, which it described as “the only solution to the conflict in the Middle East with emphasis on Israel Jewishness, democracy and independence as well as the establishment of a Palestinian viable and democratic state”.

April 27, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 2 Comments