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Multipolarity was triggered by the 2003 US invasion of Iraq

By Karin Kneissl | The Cradle | March 20, 2023

On the night of 19-20 March, 2003, the US air force began bombing the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. The EU and NATO were deeply divided on whether to join the aggression: While newer NATO members from Central and Eastern Europe were in favor of the war, European heavyweights Paris and Berlin opposed it.

The Iraq war also marked the onset of diplomatic coordination between Moscow and Beijing at the UN Security Council (UNSC). The two countries began in 2003 to apply similar voting patterns in the Council, first on Iraq, then on Libya in 2011, and over Syria in several key votes. That early Russia-China UN coordination has, 20 years later, transformed into a determined joint policy toward “guarding a new world order based on international law.”

Looking back at March 2003 from the vantage point of March 2023, the invasion of Iraq unleashed geopolitical consequences far beyond the obvious ones, like the proliferation of terrorism, a decline of US power, and regional chaos. In 2003, a foundational, global shift in the balance of power was surely the last possible consequence envisioned by the war’s planners in Washington and London.

Disconnecting the dots

The destruction of Iraq, the disbanding of the Iraqi Army by the first “US Consul” Paul Bremer in May 2023, the outflow of refugees to neighboring states such as Syria and Jordan, and the exponential growth of extremism and terror attacks are among the consequences of this misguided war.

The flimsy reasons for the war, such as non-existent weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and Baghdad’s alleged support of terror groups like Al Qaeda, were debunked extensively in the following years. By the spring of 2004, evidence was already rife – whether from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) or from the CIA’s Iraq Survey Group (ISG) – that Iraq had no WMD program at all.

Rarely before had disinformation campaigns – what is now commonly referred to as “fake news” – been so meticulously executed. The “with us or against us” narrative had firmly taken hold: Western think tanks were out in full force promoting regime change and “democracy” (not a stated goal of the US-led invasion) in Iraq, while those who opposed it were labeled anti-Israel or anti-America.

Despite unprecedented, massive public protests across western capitals in opposition to the Iraq war, the US and its allies had already set in motion their considerable war machine, led by figures such as British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Spanish Prime Minister José Maria Aznar.

A false narrative linking Baghdad and the September 11 attacks had already been well-seeded, despite there being no connection whatsoever between the government of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and the bombers. It should be noted that there were no Iraqi or Afghan citizens among the terrorists who piloted the 9-11 planes, who were predominantly Saudi nationals.

Unfinished Business

In the autumn of 2001, war scenarios for an invasion of Iraq and regime change were already being laid out in Washington. Johns Hopkins University dean Paul Wolfowitz – an avid supporter of regime-change and US military expansion into Iraq – was named deputy secretary of defense in February 2001, a full seven months before the 9-11 attacks. Wolfowitz’s working hypothesis was that Iraq, with the liberalization of its oil industry, would be able to finance a post-war reconstruction from its own petroleum exports.

The group around Vice President Dick Cheney, which included Wolfowitz and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, was influential in shaping President George W. Bush’s position on Iraq. Unlike his father, George H. Bush, who was an experienced CIA director and analyst, the younger Bush lacked a distinct personal worldview on foreign policy, which he outsourced to his hawkish coterie.

Nevertheless, he was determined to finish what he saw as his father’s “unfinished business” from the 1991 ‘Gulf War’ aimed at expelling Iraqi forces from Kuwait. That conflict was executed under a UN Security Council resolution, authorizing legal measures against Iraq as a state, but which did not constitute a war under international law.

In 1991, only Jordan‘s King Hussein took a position supporting Saddam Hussein, with all other nations backing the coalition assault against Baghdad. The US government adhered to the UN resolution, which aimed to restore Kuwait‘s territorial integrity – but not to overthrow the Iraqi government.

Instead, the US supported Iraqi Kurds in the north of the country and encouraged them to revolt against Baghdad. The Iraqi army crushed that rebellion, as it did an uprising in the Shia-dominated south. Perhaps the rebels had hoped for more concrete military aid from the US, but regardless, Hussein remained firmly in power despite military defeat elsewhere.

From Washington’s perspective, the US had failed to unseat Hussein, and within the Bush family, there was a desire to settle a score. For George W. Bush, the invasion of Iraq provided an opportunity to step out of his powerful father’s shadow by executing the elusive regime-change goal. The September 11 attacks provided a justification for this obsession – what remained was to connect Iraq to the US terror attacks and galvanize public and political support for a war, both domestically and internationally.

The UN Security Council in turmoil

In the run-up to the Iraq invasion, there was a great deal of division among UN Security Council (UNSC) members. US Secretary of State Colin Powell presented questionable evidence of Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction, while the foreign ministers of Germany and France publicly opposed the aggression, for which they occasionally received applause in the Council.

China and Russia, who vehemently opposed the war, began coordinating their decisions and responses, in part because of their respective oil interests in Iraq. This cooperation between Moscow and Beijing set the stage for a coordinated multilateral approach between the two nations. Both governments understood that a war would open Pandora’s box, leading to the collapse of Iraqi institutions and resulting in widespread regional disharmony.

Unfortunately, this is precisely what happened. The subsequent years saw weekly attacks, an expansion of Salafi terror groups like Al Qaeda, the rise of ISIS in 2014, and perpetual internal Iraqi conflict. Anyone familiar with the country‘s conditions was aware of the looming catastrophe when the illegal invasion of Iraq began on 20 March, 2003.

China and Russia and the multipolar order  

Twenty years to the day, Chinese President Xi Jinping will embark on a three-day state visit to Moscow, and the focus will extend beyond bilateral energy relations, which have been a consistent priority since 2004.

As previously stated in their joint declaration in Beijing in February 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart aim to coordinate their foreign policy and advance it together. Their discussions may also touch on the Ukraine dossier, although media expectations in the west may be overestimated.

It may be pure coincidence that the meeting coincides with the 20th anniversary of the Iraq invasion. Yet it also highlights how extensively Russian and Chinese strategies have intertwined over the past two decades.

Today, increasingly, “orientation comes from Orient.” Cooperative geostrategic leadership and sound alternative propositions to resolve global conflicts are being shaped in Beijing and Moscow – because the old centers of power can offer nothing new.

Twenty years after the US invasion of Iraq, a failed ‘war on terror,’ the proliferation of extremism, millions of dead and displaced in West Asia, and never-ending conflict, China and Russia have finally teamed up to systematically advance their view of the world, this time with more resolve and global clout.

As catastrophic as it was, the Iraq war ended the practice of direct US military invasions, ushering in a war-weary era that desperately sought other solutions. That global division of opinion that began in 2003 over Iraq is, 20 years later, being institutionalized by emerging multipolar powers that seek to counter forever wars.

March 20, 2023 Posted by | Deception, Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

Setting the record straight on the teeming media swamp that supported Iraq war

By Kelley Beaucar Vlahos | Responsible Statecraft | March 20, 2023

In his doubling down of support for the war in Iraq, David “Axis of Evil” Frum all but exonerates the architects and promoters of the war (which would include himself, being a speechwriter for President Bush until 2002, then a media cheerleader) as such:

To my mind, the most important lessons regard government decision making, offering a warning against groupthink and self-deception. Crucial decision makers started with an assumption that regime change in Iraq would be cheap, easy, and lightly contested. They then isolated themselves from all contrary information—until it was too late.

Frum, like his contemporary Eli Lake, is an interesting case because each has in the last few weeks attempted to both acknowledge the conventional wisdom after 20 years that the war was a failure, while still arguing best intentions and look, “Iraq really is better off without Saddam Hussein.” On the latter, I will let my colleague Connor Echols’ heartbreaking interviews with actual Iraqis answer that. What I’m keen to explore is Frum’s assertion that: “I don’t believe any leaders of the time intended to be dishonest. They were shocked and dazed by 9/11. They deluded themselves.”

It is highly doubtful that Frum vulcan mind-melded with each of the architects, or saw into their souls a la Bush and Vladimir Putin. We know from highly documented accounts that, contra Frum’s simplistic summation, the Bush administration was influenced by a vanguard of well-placed neoconservatives who had set regime change into motion back in the Clinton administration. This was no 9/11 hangover. As Jim Lobe pointed out in these pages in 2021, the 2001 attacks enabled leaders and operators like Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Scooter Libby, Robert Kagan, and Bill Kristol to have the war they wanted long before those planes flew into the Twin Towers.

Frum’s flimsy rationalization conveniently ignores that the mainstream media was totally and willingly co-opted into this “delusion” too, and without it, the invasion and aftermath, which included eight years of occupation and then another two years of military assistance to help the Iraqis roust ISIS (which the U.S. invasion created) wouldn’t have carried on in the manner that it did.

I say that because as the polling showed the American people losing faith in the war by January 2005, the mainstream media backgrounded all of the bad news (like military massacrescivilian deathstorturesectarian violencePTSD) while foregrounding Pentagon talking points that said new counterinsurgency methods and tactical wins meant victory was “right around the corner.” They lied about reconstruction progress, too, as Peter Van Buren points out right here.

An entire ecosystem of information management ensured that the major networks, newspapers and radio, owned by only a handful of conglomerates, were singing the same tune, all of the time.

Frum, Lake, and columnists like Max Boot, who now, conveniently, says he regrets it, were what Spock would call top “lifeforms” in that ecosystem.

We must talk about this because these men and their compradores in the Washington swamp want to dismiss any comparison to how we view Ukraine and how the media is covering U.S. policy in that war. They have not learned any lessons about meddling and the limits of American power writ large, just in failed wars of the past.

March 20, 2023 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

Former Egyptian FM: ‘Everyone knew there were no WMDs in Iraq’, invasion was in place before Bush came to power

Sputnik – 20.03.2023

Former Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmi was Egypt’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United States at the time of the US invasion of Iraq. He shared his memories in an interview with Sputnik.

In his interview, Nabil Fahmi said that the American invasion of Iraq was already in place when George W Bush came to power, and he was simply looking for a suitable opportunity to carry out the plan.

Sputnik : As an Egyptian diplomat at the time, how did you feel about the US decision to invade Iraq in 2003?

Nabil Fahmi: At the time, in 2003, I was Egypt’s Ambassador to the United States. Of course, the entire Arab diplomatic corps was discussing the invasion in one way or another. Even with the election of Bush Jr as President of the United States, I noticed a really unhealthy interest the neocons took in Iraq. US vice-president Richard (“Dick”) Cheney was particularly prominent in this regard. On his first visit to Arab countries, he told me personally that he wanted to focus on Iraq.

Sputnik : Why Iraq in particular?

Nabil Fahmi: I asked him why Iraq and not, for example, the Palestinian issue. But he said that Iraq had caught his attention. I told the leadership in Cairo about the strange interest of the new American administration: but at that time, no one imagined that it would come to an open invasion in 2003.

Sputnik : Could you please tell us about Egypt’s position on the US invasion of Iraq?

Nabil Fahmi: I conveyed a message from President Hosni Mubarak to the Chief of Staff of the US Army and to one of the military commanders in the region that an invasion of Iraq was not advisable, and that there was a big difference between the liberation of Kuwait from occupation – in which the Egyptians had also been involved – and the direct occupation of an Arab country. This message was also conveyed to various American officials in Washington, including Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell and others.

The Egyptian delegation arrived in Washington about four weeks before the invasion in a last-ditch effort to acquaint the US side with Cairo’s position. The delegation visited US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. They were warned that an invasion of an Arab country would be disastrous for the region.

Sputnik : And how did the Americans respond?

Nabil Fahmi: The US administration questioned us point by point, ranging from the invasion and how to take control of certain places. Each time we responded, we emphasized that we did not support the US invasion. At one point, Rice specifically asked why this point was being repeated in every response. Our delegation explained that Egypt continued to oppose the invasion in any case: the Iraqi state must be preserved.

Sputnik : What did Washington think of Cairo’s response to the invasion?

Nabil Fahmi: Our position put me, as Egypt’s ambassador to Washington, in a difficult position before the US Congress. I explicitly said that Cairo did not support the war in Iraq, even though we were friends of America.

Sputnik : And how did you assess the international position on the invasion?

Nabil Fahmi: The US administration was determined to invade Iraq from the first day it came to power, and this was evident in the speeches of Cheney and Wolfowitz. The course of action had started taking shape after 9/11. The Bush administration had to justify this military operation to convince the American public that there was a real threat. To this end, they played the card of Iraq’s possession of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Although in fact everyone knew that there were no weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq.

Sputnik : What then were the real reasons for the US invasion of Iraq?

Nabil Fahmi: The US decision to invade Iraq was made regardless of the actions of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and the suffering of the Iraqi people, and there was no real evidence that Iraq possessed WMD. Either it was because they wanted to realize their ambitions after the liberation of Kuwait – because at that time the controversy about the need to end the war of liberation was raging – or maybe it was because the US was already developing the concept of a “New Middle East” and the easiest place to start implementing it was with a sanctions-weakened Iraq.

Sputnik : In your opinion, what has been the most significant consequence of the US invasion of Iraq?

Nabil Fahmi: I opposed Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and saw that it was unacceptable and a big mistake on the part of Saddam Hussein. I do not believe that any country has the right to invade another country without respecting international law. That is why I did not support the invasion of Iraq. However, this war caused a lot of trouble in the Levant and the Gulf Region, and later the emergence of Daesh terrorists in the region. To this day, the Middle East is still dealing with the consequences of the US invasion of Iraq 20 years ago.

Sputnik : Has there been a change in American policy toward Arab countries in the years since the invasion of Iraq?

Nabil Fahmi: Nothing has changed. What has changed is the American reality and the Arab reaction. In the early 2000s, the US wanted to show the Middle East that after the collapse of the Soviet Union it could do whatever it wanted with Moscow’s former allies – that was its interest.

Circumstances are different now. Washington is no longer willing to give guarantees or sacrifice its wealth or forces to protect anyone in the region as a whole. For their part, the Arab countries began to realize – after the American invasion of Iraq – that the US could not be given preferential treatment. Thus, the Arab countries began to balance their foreign policies, giving the US the role of an important partner, but by no means the only one. The Arabs now realize that they must take the lead in solving most of the region’s problems and not rely on others to do so.

March 20, 2023 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

Iran-Iraq Security Deal Signed in Baghdad

Al-Manar | March 19, 2023

Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani will reportedly sign a bilateral agreement on security cooperation with Iraq during a visit to Baghdad.

Accompanied by governor of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) and two Foreign Ministry deputies, Shamkhani left Tehran for Baghdad on Sunday morning at the invitation of Iraq’s National Security Advisor Qasim al-Araji.

In addition to meetings with senior Iraqi political and economic officials, Shamkhani is scheduled to sign a document on mutual security cooperation that was being prepared for months.

The agreement would commit Iran and Iraq to safeguarding the principles of good neighborliness and protecting the common border. The deal is believed to have a significant role in ending the illegal presence of anti-Iranian armed groups and the elements affiliated with the Zionist regime in the Iraqi areas adjacent to Iran’s northwestern border regions.

Shamkhani’s visit to Iraq, made days after a landmark trip to the United Arab Emirates, comes after Iran and Saudi Arabia announced their decision to restore ties.

Following days of intensive talks in Beijing, Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed on March 10 to resume their diplomatic relations and reopen their embassies and diplomatic missions within at most two months.

Arab governments neighboring Iran have eagerly welcomed the rapprochement between the two regional heavyweights.

March 19, 2023 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

US Nurtured Plans of Destroying Iraq Years Before 2003 Invasion, Ex-Official Says

By Svetlana Ekimenko – Sputnik – 19.03.2023

Based on what turned out to be the false premise that then-leader of Iraq Saddam Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction, on March 19, 2003, the US launched its Operation Iraqi Freedom, which cost the lives of over 4,700 US and allied servicemen, and hundreds of thousands, or even millions of Iraqis.
The US was determined to destroy Iraq years before the 2003 invasion, an Iraqi official has told Sputnik.

Two decades since the US military entered Baghdad, Farouk Al Fityan, Iraq’s last ambassador to Greece before the US invasion of the country, has shared with Sputnik his recollections of what happened 20 years ago.

“We feared an invasion after the events of September 11, 2001, and the subsequent groundless, unrealistic accusations, claiming that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, and had possibly been involved in the 9/11 attack,” said the ex-director of the Iraqi foreign minister’s office before the US occupation.

On February 5, 2003, then-US Secretary of State Colin Powell addressed the United Nations, claiming the United States had ample evidence of Iraq’s production of weapons of mass destruction, and demonstrated a vial containing “anthrax” to illustrate the point. However, the so-called proof presented by Washington failed to impress the UN Security Council, which did not authorize the United States to use force. Indeed, by the time of the unauthorized US-led invasion of Iraq, Saddam Hussein had eliminated the country’s chemical weapons and other weapons of mass destruction programs. The Bush administration was subsequently revealed to have fabricated evidence of Iraqi WMDs.

After the occupation of Afghanistan, it became evident that Iraq was next in line, Farouk Al Fityan said.

The US launched its invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. At the time, the US explained its move by highlighting that Osama bin Laden had masterminded the attacks, and that the Taliban* had offered sanctuary to members of al-Qaeda. However, the Taliban never recognized the US assertions that the group had any ties to the 2001 attacks. The US invasion went on to claim the lives of thousands of US soldiers, and more than 100,000 Afghan troops, police, as well as civilians caught in the crossfire.

Amid the hostility emanating from Washington, Baghdad attempted to consolidate international opinion, and the Iraqi foreign minister at the time, Naji Sabri, serving under then-President Saddam Hussein, was trying to involve a number of Arab countries, especially the Gulf States, in this process, Farouk Al Fityan said.

Shuttle diplomacy was undertaken to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, and Bahrain… After the Beirut summit in 2002, visits were made to Cairo, Damascus, and Algiers. The Foreign Ministry also reached out to Iran and other neighboring countries, hoping to “break the mechanism of war” conceived by the United States.

At the same time, the former Iraqi official said, American President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair had already set the stage for what would follow.

“If we look at the Arab reality today, we will see that the scheme tested in Iraq was later implemented in Libya, Sudan, and Syria. The Arab world was thrust into a difficult situation 20 years ago.”

When the blockade of Iraq was imposed after the Gulf War (1990–1991), everyone suffered a lot. It was very difficult to get medicine for children, not to mention food. The hardest years were from 1991 to 1995, the Iraqi ex-official said, adding:

“We felt that the US was serious about destroying Iraq, because there had never been an international blockade like the one that was imposed upon us then.”

Subsequently, the Oil-for-Food Program (OIP) was established by the UN in 1995, allowing Iraq to sell oil on the world market in exchange for food, medicine, and other humanitarian necessities. Due to the blockade and false accusations of possession of weapons of mass destruction, Iraq had to deal with multiple international inspection teams. Baghdad opened the doors for the teams, albeit the Foreign Ministry was fully aware of their lack of impartiality.

“We knew that they were subordinate to the United States and Great Britain. But Iraq had no choice but to accept. And we, the diplomats and the military, were forced to come to terms with this. However, I was personally convinced that they had come to destroy Iraq, and not to ‘remove the threat of war.'”

According to Farouk Al Fityan, his country’s leadership was convinced that there would be no US offensive, as had happened in Afghanistan. They expected that everything would be limited to some air strikes on some objects, but in fact, “America’s decision to destroy Iraq had already been made.”

March 19, 2023 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

The U.S. War of Aggression Against Iraq

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | March 16, 2023

The U.S. invasion of Iraq, whose 20th anniversary occurs this month, provides a perfect demonstration of why so many people around the world believe that the U.S. government suffers from a very grave case of hypocrisy. While U.S. officials decry Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with great vehemence, they somehow block out of their minds their own deadly and destructive invasion, war of aggression, and long-term occupation of Iraq.

Not only have U.S. officials not even offered an apology for what they did to the Iraqi people, they still expect the American people to thank the troops for what they did to the people of Iraq.

Let’s keep one important, undisputed fact in mind: Iraq never attacked or invaded the United States. It was the United States that was the invader and the aggressor. That’s why I use the term “war of aggression.” It is a term that was used at the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal to convict and condemn German officials who did the same thing to other countries in World War II that the U.S. did to Iraq.

That means that under international law, U.S. troops had no legal authority to kill even one Iraqi. Yet, they killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. We are still expected to thank the troops for their “service” in killing an enormously large number of people they had no right to kill.

There is another important, undisputed fact to keep in mind: Congress never declared war on Iraq. Yet, our Constitution requires a congressional declaration of war before the president can legally wage war with his army against another nation. That makes the U.S. invasion, war of aggression, and occupation illegal under our own form of government.

Thus, the killing, maiming, injuring, or torturing of Iraqi citizens was illegal under our own form of government. Yet, we are still expected to thank the troops for their “service.”

U.S. officials have long claimed that their invasion of Iraq was based on an innocent mistake. They say that they honestly thought that Iraq possessed “weapons of mass destruction.”

But there is a serious flaw in that justification: The U.S. government had no legal authority to enforce WMD resolutions that had been enacted by the United Nations. Only the UN has the legal authority to enforce its own resolutions. It is undisputed that the UN never authorized an invasion of Iraq to enforce its WMD resolutions.

Equally important, the WMD claim was clearly a lie on the part of U.S. officials to garner American support for the invasion. After all, if it was truly an innocent mistake, once it became clear that there were no WMDs U.S. officials would have apologized for their deadly and destructive invasion and ordered the troops to return home. Instead, they keep the troops in Iraq, who continued killing, injuring, maiming, and torturing Iraqis.

Moreover, once it became clear that there were no WMDs, U.S. officials quickly shifted their justification for their invasion, war of aggression, and occupation to bringing “freedom” to the Iraqi people. That’s why they called their war of aggression “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” But under international law, a nation is prohibited from invading another nation for the purpose of bringing “freedom” to the invaded country. Moreover, at the risk of belaboring the obvious, all those hundreds of thousands of Iraqis they killed are not enjoying “freedom” because they are dead.

Moreover, notice something else of importance: There has never been an official U.S. investigation — not even by Congress — into whether the WMD claim was, in fact, an innocent mistake or an intentional, deliberate, and knowing lie. Even while U.S. officials cry out for war-crimes indictments of Russian officials for supposed war crimes in Ukraine, they steadfastly oppose any indictments or even criminal investigations of U.S. officials who ordered and presided over the U.S. invasion, war of aggression, and long-term occupation of Iraq.

It is always easy to point out the faults, failures, and misdeeds of foreign regimes. It is much more difficult to focus on the faults, failures, and misdeeds of one’s own regime. We should bear in mind that when U.S. officials point their accusatory finger at Russia, China, Iran, Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela, and other regimes, there are three more hypocritical fingers pointing back at them.

March 16, 2023 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

Former Iraqi PM hails Gen. Soleimani as architect of Iran-Saudi détente

Press TV – March 15, 2023

Former Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi has lauded late Iranian anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani as a “pacesetter” in the recent agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia to restore diplomatic ties and re-open diplomatic missions.

In an article published on the website of Iraq’s Al-Ahad TV channel on Tuesday, Abdul-Mahdi provided an exclusive account of the recent Iran-Saudi agreement and praised General Soleimani, former commander of the Quds Force of Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), as the one who “launched” the groundbreaking deal.

Abdul-Mahdi said during a state visit to China in September 2019, he received a phone call from General Soleimani who asked him if he could visit Saudi Arabia and act as an “intermediary” between Iran and the kingdom.

“General Soleimani said the matter was urgent,” to which the former Iraqi premier replied that he would go to Riyadh right after returning to Baghdad.

“I informed the Chinese side of the martyr’s request, and they rejoiced,” Abdul-Mahdi added.

The former Iraqi premier continued by saying that he contacted the Saudi government, which inquired about the purpose of the visit.

“I informed them of Iran’s request for mediation and identified Soleimani as the Iranian representative. The Saudis welcomed the proposal,” Abdul-Mahdi said.

“We returned to Iran on the morning of 25/9/2019 and left Baghdad in the evening for Saudi Arabia. Former Prime Minister [Mustafa] al-Kadhimi accompanied me, along with Minister of Oil Thamer al-Ghadhban, and Mohamed al-Hashimi, the cabinet secretary. We were received by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques; then we held a late-night meeting with the Crown Prince [Mohammad bin Salman].”

Abdul-Mahdi stressed that the initiative was obstructed following strikes on Saudi Arabia’s state-run oil giant Aramco and the US-directed assassination of General Soleimani along with his companions in the Iraqi capital.

“Regrettably, the former American administration executed their misguided and cowardly operation…I then passed on the responsibility to Prime Minister al-Kadhimi on May 7, 2020. Despite this setback, the initiative continued, and the first meetings were held in Baghdad in April 2021, with Mr. Mohammad Hashemi representing al-Kadhimi in his stead. Sheikh Khaled al-Humaidan led the Saudi delegation, while the Iranian side was represented by Deputy Secretary General of the National Security Council, Mr. Saeed Iravani. Meetings proceeded with the involvement of other officials, culminating in a strategic agreement in Beijing,” he said.

The former Iraqi premier also said many parties had contributed to the conclusion of the agreement, which, if successful, “has the potential to alter not only the region but the world.”

Abdul-Mahdi added that the deal is not merely about re-establishing ties between the two countries, adding that it will lead to a complete resolution of sensitive and dangerous issues.

“Both parties engaged in robust and forceful negotiations, and the agreement could not have been reached without regional and global developments, the growing influence of China, and guarantees from both sides. The agreement holds a shared vision for the wider trajectory of the region, as can be gleaned from the concluding statement,” Abdul-Mahdi concluded.

After several days of intensive negotiations hosted by China, Iran and Saudi Arabia finally clinched a deal on Friday to restore diplomatic relations and re-open embassies and missions within two months.

Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic relations with Iran in January 2016 after Iranian protesters, enraged by the execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr by the Saudi government, stormed its embassy in Tehran.

The two sides had held five rounds of negotiations in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad since April 2021.

March 15, 2023 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

Sabotage of Nord Stream won’t go unpunished


Next Monday, an uneasy anniversary arrives. It will be 20 years since the invasion of Iraq by the United States. Britain was a pillar of the US-led ‘coalition of the willing.’ The Guardian columnist John Harris wrote on Sunday that it was “the greatest political and humanitarian disaster the UK had been involved in since the second world war… when the supposed political centre ground suddenly lurched somewhere reckless and catastrophic.” 

The Iraq War caused endless violence and huge levels of death. Ironically, it was Seymour Hersh who exposed that horrific chronicle of torture in the Abu Ghraib by the US troops that shocked the world.

Harris made a debatable point that the Iraq War had “profound effects” on the UK. He listed, amongst them, “a sense that politics and power had lurched away from the public, and left a huge and very uneasy gap.” Maybe he is right, but for the wrong reasons. As time passed, the Iraq War made Britain’s party politics look farcical.

Britain today has a UniParty — the party of government, which seems to consist of the same people as the party of the opposition. Britain has reached where the US has been for quite some time  — a cabal of political elites hijacking the country, operating its own agenda, regardless of which political party is formally in power — and the people at large having lost control of their government. That is why crimes like Abu Ghraib and Nord Stream go unpunished.

On March 3, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had a top secret one-on-one with Biden in the Oval Office in what appears to have been an attempt, among other things, to reach a consensus on how to handle Hersh’s explosive report on the sabotage of Nord Stream. (Read my blog Ukraine: A war to end all wars in Europe.)

Look at the sequence of events: Four days after Scholz met Biden, New York Times carried a sensational media leak regarding Nord Stream, attributing the sabotage to a “pro-Ukrainian group” consisting of five men and one woman who used a yacht rented in Poland. 

The vessel was later found by German investigators — also a media leak in Berlin — and turned out to be the Andromeda, a Bavaria C50 sailing boat. The group reportedly embarked on their mission from Rostock on September 6, 2022. The equipment for the secret operation was allegedly transported to the port in a truck. 

Germany’s Die Zeit backed the Times narrative in real time. But the narrative itself is riddled with discrepancies. Questions are galore: How could a 15-meter chartered yacht have possibly carried an estimated 1,500-2,000 kilograms of explosives required for the sabotage? How could Andromeda, which doesn’t have a crane, hoist  such massive quantities of explosives safely into the water? 

A Russian analysis points out that “the site of the explosion, the Baltic Sea, is about 80 meters deep, which requires special diving equipment, including air tanks with a helium-oxygen mixture and pure oxygen. All in all, one would need 30 litres of a special gas mixture for one dive alone, which means there must have been dozens of bottles on board. In addition, there should have been a decompression chamber for the divers, something that the yacht is not fit for. Furthermore, it would have taken several dives and a few days to lay the explosives on the pipelines. It’s hard to imagine that these activities would have gone completely unnoticed.” 

The Times news desk evidently didn’t do any fact check. But on March 10, the chair of the Bundestag’s intelligence oversight committee, Konstantin von Notz from the Green Party, told Die Zeit that what happened was likely a “state-backed act of terrorism” and was likely conducted by a “state or quasi-state actor.” 

Scholz is skating on thin ice. He heads a coalition of Atlanticists. But Germany is not yet a UniParty country. Besides, unlike in the US or the UK, in the German political system, the public prosecutor who is investigating the Nord Stream sabotage is an autonomous entity who can’t be ordered around by politicians in power.  

The German defence minister Boris Pistorius’ reaction to the Times report shows it — that Germans don’t yet know whether this was a Ukrainian commando that acted with the knowledge of the Ukrainian government, a pro-Ukrainian group that acted without their knowledge, or whether it might have been a false flag operation. Berlin apparently doesn’t exclude official Ukrainian involvement. 

Scapegoating comes handy for Washington in such situations as an exit strategy. A report in Politico on Sunday distanced the Biden Administration from the Ukrainian regime of Zelensky, and the Nord Stream sabotage is mentioned there as one of three reasons for the “growing differences behind the scenes” between Washington and Kiev. 

For the present, though, there seems to be a tacit understanding between Biden and Scholz that they will not tear each other up over this matter. As for Zelensky, he probably has no option but to play the role of a scapegoat when necessary.

By mentioning Nord Stream as a matter of discord between Washington and Kiev, the Politico report seems to hint to Zelensky that this is a high stakes game affecting transatlantic unity and scapegoat may become necessary. 

Meanwhile, instead of pointing a finger at Washington, the Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolay Patrushev  was non-committal  on Sunday, saying, “I emphasise that any accusations that are not supported by the results of an impartial investigation cannot be trusted. Therefore, Moscow insists on an objective investigation with the participation of Russia and other interested countries. Without this, voicing one-sided subjective versions of the terrorist attack does not explain anything.”

Patrushev has virtually challenged the Biden-Scholz tandem. To be sure, an impartial investigation will have political consequences. For one thing, German public opinion is relatively fickle on the issue of weapons deliveries. Second, Scholz cannot afford a perception that he is in collusion with Biden.

Of course, if it is established that a Ukrainian commando unit or an American outfit was responsible for the sabotage, the political consequences will be massive. The German public may demand stoppage of arms supplies to Ukraine. On the other hand, if the US is responsible, the current renaissance in German-American ties will simply wither away.

Scholz is yet to understand that Transatlanticism is not the defining characteristic of the Democratic Party. His fate may turn out to be the same as Tony Blair’s. Harris wrote that the effects of Blair’s deceptions rippled on all the way to Brexit.

To quote him, “Iraq hideously sullied Blair and [Gordon] Brown’s domestic record and marked the end of the New Labour vision of Britain as a young, confident country. It reduced the fantasies of “liberal interventionism” to ash, and deepened the disaffection and unease that would lead to our exit from Europe.”

Handelsblatt newspaper in a report last Thursday pointed out that the investigation on Nord Stream may play politically into the hands of the far-left and the far-right in German politics. Can Scholz survive the deception over Nord Stream sabotage? If Ukraine is implicated, there is no going back for Germany.

March 14, 2023 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

Russian FM: US playing with fire, encouraging separatism in Kurdish region in Syria

Press TV – February 6, 2023

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says the United States is “playing with fire” with its activities on the common border between Iraq and Syria, especially by backing separatist militants affiliated with the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and encouraging separatism.

Lavrov said at a press conference in Baghdad with his Iraqi counterpart, Fuad Hussein, that Washington “fosters separatism among locals of Kurdish-populated regions in Iraq and Syria. It is playing with fire.”

He added, “Americans encourage Kurdish separatism one way or another and ignore other matters, including the territorial integrity of Syria, warning that such an approach “exposes other countries in the region to ensuing dangers and threats.”

Security conditions have been deteriorating in the areas controlled by the US-led SDF in Syria’s northern and northeastern provinces of Raqqah, Hasakah, and Dayr al-Zawr amid ongoing raids and arrests of civilians by the US-sponsored militants.

Locals argue that SDF’s constant raids and arrest campaigns have generated a state of frustration and instability, severely affecting their businesses and livelihoods.

Residents accuse the US-backed militants of stealing crude oil and failing to spend money on service sectors.

Local councils affiliated with the SDF have also been accused of financial corruption. They are said to be embezzling funds provided by donors, neglecting services, and not meeting the basic needs.

The Russian foreign minister went on to note that Moscow continues to work on negotiations within the Astana format for the peaceful settlement of Syria conflict, and regards the peace talks as useful.

“We consider Iraq’s observer status at the Astana talks, with Iran, Russia and Turkey acting as the guarantor states, to be very useful. We will continue our interactions and welcome participation of Iraq as an observer. Jordan and Lebanon also play the same role,” Lavrov said.

The Russian foreign minister went on to speak of a “vital importance” to “safeguard” bilateral economic ties with Iraq against “illegal sanctions” imposed on his country by the United States and its allies due to the conflict in Ukraine.

Lavrov said Russia had already invested some $13 billion in Iraq, arguing that Russian oil companies have not received outstanding payments because of the West’s coercive measures.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the top Russian diplomat underlined the importance of the Palestinian issue, saying that the West is procrastinating resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Hussein, for his part, termed Lavrov’s visit to Iraq as a remarkable development, stressing that Baghdad and Moscow will discuss problems linked to the work of Russian companies and Russian financial dues in the Arab country through meetings of the joint committee between the two sides.

The Iraqi foreign minister said he would discuss the issue of cooperating with Russian companies during an upcoming visit to the US.

Hussein said he would insist the US should refrain from imposing sanctions on Iraqi companies for working with Russian partners in Iraq.

He also touched on the Ukraine crisis, stating that Iraq demands a ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine, and calls for an end to the crisis through sincere dialogue between the two countries.

February 6, 2023 Posted by | Economics, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , | Leave a comment

US ‘empire of lies’ should be investigated – top Russian MP

RT | February 5, 2023

The UN should open an investigation into Washington’s crimes against humanity, Russian State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin suggested on Sunday.

Writing on Telegram on the 20th anniversary of the infamous 2003 speech by then-US Secretary of State Colin Powell at the UN Security Council, during which he justified the ill-fated invasion of Iraq, Volodin offered a scathing criticism of what he described as the American “empire of lies.”

According to the speaker of the lower house of Russia’s parliament, this date marks “one of the biggest deceptions of the global community by the United States.” He recalled that during the landmark Security Council meeting Powell “accused Iraq of producing weapons of mass destruction, providing a vial with ‘white powder’ as proof.” At the time, the US secretary of state said the vial could be used to store anthrax.

While the UN did not approve the Iraq invasion, the US attacked the country anyway, he added. “Half a million civilians fell victims, the president was executed, the country was gone,” Volodin wrote, pointing out that Powell later admitted that the vial stunt was “a hoax,” but Washington was never held to account.

“All policies of the United States and the collective West are based on lies,” the Duma speaker stressed.

He noted that the same applied to NATO’s promises not to expand eastwards after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc, as well as to the 2014 and 2015 Minsk Agreements. The latter were signed by Russia, Ukraine, France, and Germany in a bid to pave the way for peace in Ukraine by granting the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics special status within the Ukrainian state.

These accords “also turned out to be a deception – but [former German Chancellor Angela] Merkel and [former French President Francois] Hollande acted as Powell did”, Volodin said. He was referring to the bombshell confessions by the two ex-leaders, who admitted in December that the Minsk Agreements were simply meant “to give Ukraine time” to strengthen its army.

“The UN should investigate Washington’s crimes against humanity. And the decision-makers should be punished for the millions of victims, refugees, broken destinies, destroyed states,” Volodin added.

February 5, 2023 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , , , | 4 Comments

MbS urged Baghdad to set up Iran-Saudi meeting: Iraqi FM

The Cradle | January 31, 2023

As part of a diplomatic process aimed at mending strained relations between the two neighbors, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) reportedly pressured senior Iraqi officials to set up a face-to-face meeting between the top diplomats of Riyadh and Tehran. This was revealed by the Iraqi Foreign Minister, Fuad Hussein, on 30 January.

In an interview with Rudaw TV on 29 January, the Iraqi Foreign Minister said that “Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud and Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and Iran, will meet in Baghdad, at the request of Mohammed bin Salman. The event is still planned, and the time and date will be announced later.”

He also said that the Iranian and Saudi foreign ministers would meet in public and that Iraq would act as a middleman to ensure that the details of the private conversations were made public.

The Saudi diplomat stated earlier this month that his nation has spoken with Iran and is looking for a way to open a dialogue between the two.

In an effort to improve their bilateral relations, the two sides began negotiations in the spring of 2021 and held five rounds of talks in the Iraqi capital. However, Tehran suspended the negotiations after Riyadh executed 81 people under the pretext of being involved in “terrorism,” the majority of which were minority Shia Muslims.

Relations have recently become tenser due to Saudi Arabia’s alleged sponsorship of the protests in Iran in late 2022.

Iran’s Intelligence Minister, Esmail Khatib, was quoted by Iranian media as saying it is running out of patience and will no longer tolerate intervention, hostility, and incitement in a direct message to Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, in November, Iran sent an official warning message to the kingdom through diplomatic channels, confirming that it is fully aware of “the Saudi connection to Iran International.” Riyadh categorically denied this, saying it has “nothing to do with the outlet.”

January 31, 2023 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

Russia Warns Ukraine Against Using Depleted Uranium Shells

Sputnik – 25.01.2023

Moscow has cautioned western powers against supplying Ukraine with depleted uranium munitions and with long-range weaponry capable of striking at cities deep within Russian territory.

Supplying Ukraine with depleted uranium munitions for western military hardware would be regarded by Moscow as the use of “dirty bombs,” said Konstantin Gavrilov, head of the Russian delegation to the Vienna Negotiations on Military Security and Arms Control.

Speaking at a plenary meeting of the OSCE Forum for Security Cooperation, Gavrilov cautioned “western sponsors of Kiev’s war machine” against encouraging “nuclear provocations and blackmail.”

“We know that Leopard 2 tanks, as well as Bradley and Marder armored fighting vehicles, can use depleted uranium shells, which can contaminate terrain, just like it happened in Yugoslavia and Iraq,” he said. “If Kiev were to be supplied with such munitions for the use in western heavy military hardware, we would regard it as the use of ‘dirty nuclear bombs’ against Russia, with all the consequences that entails.”

Gavrilov also warned that Moscow will retaliate if the West were to supply Kiev with long-range weaponry to carry out strikes against Russian cities.

“If Washington and NATO countries provide Kiev with weapons for striking against the cities deep inside the Russian territory and for attempting to seize our constitutionally affirmed territories, it would force Moscow to undertake harsh retaliatory actions. Do not say that we did not warn you,” he remarked.

Previously, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned that any shipments containing weapons for Ukraine would become a lawful target for Russian forces, while Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov noted that the flow of western weapons to Ukraine does not help potential negotiations between Moscow and Kiev.

January 25, 2023 Posted by | Environmentalism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment