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‘Deliberate ambiguity’: Israel’s nuclear weapons are greatest threat to Middle East

By Ramzy Baroud | MEMO | November 28, 2022

As western countries are floating the theory that Russia could escalate its conflict with Ukraine to a nuclear war, many western governments continue to turn a blind eye to Israel’s own nuclear weapons capabilities. Luckily, many countries around the world do not subscribe to this endemic western hypocrisy.

‘The Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction’ was held between November 14-18, with the sole purpose of creating new standards of accountability that, as should have always been the case, be applied equally to all Middle Eastern countries.

The debate regarding nuclear weapons in the Middle East could not possibly be any more pertinent or urgent. International observers rightly note that the period following the Russia-Ukraine war is likely to accelerate the quest for nuclear weapons throughout the world. Considering the seemingly perpetual state of conflict in the Middle East, the region is likely to witness nuclear rivalry as well.

For years, Arab and other countries attempted to raise the issue that accountability regarding the development and acquisition of nuclear weapons cannot be confined to states that are perceived to be enemies of Israel and the West.

The latest of these efforts was a United Nations resolution that called on Israel to dispose of its nuclear weapons, and to place its nuclear facilities under the monitoring of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Resolution number A/C.1/77/L.2, which was drafted by Egypt with the support of other Arab countries, passed with an initial vote of 152-5. Unsurprisingly, among the five countries that voted against the draft were the United States, Canada and, of course, Israel itself.

US and Canadian blind support of Tel Aviv notwithstanding, what compels Washington and Ottawa to vote against a draft entitled: “The risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East”? Keeping in mind the successive right-wing extremist governments that have ruled over Israel for many years, Washington must understand that the risk of using nuclear weapons under the guise of fending off an ‘existential threat’ is a real possibility.

Since its inception, Israel has resorted to, and utilised the phrase ‘existential threat’ countless times. Various Arab governments, later Iran and even individual Palestinian resistance movements were accused of endangering Israel’s very existence. Even the non-violent Palestinian civil society-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement was accused by then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2015 of being an existential threat to Israel. Netanyahu claimed that the boycott movement was “not connected to our actions; it is connected to our very existence.”

This should worry everyone, not just in the Middle East, but the whole world. A country with such hyped sensitivity about imagined ‘existential threats’ should not be allowed to acquire the kind of weapons that could destroy the entire Middle East, several times over.

Some may argue that Israel’s nuclear arsenal was intrinsically linked to real fears resulting from its historical conflict with the Arabs. However, this is not the case. As soon as Israel finalised its ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their historic homeland, and long before any serious Arab or Palestinian resistance was carried out in response, Israel was already on the lookout for nuclear weapons.

As early as 1949, the Israeli army had found uranium deposits in the Negev Desert, leading to the establishment, in 1952, of the very secretive Israel Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC).

In 1955, the US government sold Israel a nuclear research reactor.  But that was not enough. Eager to become a full nuclear power, Tel Aviv resorted to Paris in 1957. The latter became a major partner in Israel’s sinister nuclear activities when it helped the Israeli government construct a clandestine nuclear reactor near Dimona in the Negev Desert.

The father of the Israeli nuclear program at the time was none other than Shimon Peres who, ironically, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994. The Dimona Nuclear Reactor is now named ‘Shimon Peres Nuclear Research Centre-Negev’.

With no international monitoring whatsoever, thus with zero legal accountability, Israel’s nuclear quest continues until this day. In 1963, Israel purchased 100 tons of uranium ore from Argentina, and it is strongly believed that, during the October 1973 Israel-Arab war, Israel “came close to making a nuclear preemptive strike”, according to Richard Sale, writing in United Press International (UPI).

Currently, Israel is believed to have “enough fissionable material to fabricate 60-300 nuclear weapons,” according to former US Army Officer, Edwin S. Cochran.

Estimates vary, but the facts about Israel’s weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) are hardly contested. Israel itself practices what is known as ‘deliberate ambiguity’, as to send a message to its enemies of its lethal power, without revealing anything that may hold it accountable to international inspection.

What we know about Israel’s nuclear weapons has been made possible partly because of the bravery of a former Israeli nuclear technician, Mordechai Vanunu, a whistleblower who was held in solitary confinement for a decade due to his courage in exposing Israel’s darkest secrets.

Still, Israel refuses to sign the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), endorsed by 191 countries.

Israeli leaders adhere to what is known as the ‘Begin Doctrine’, in reference to Menachem Begin, the rightwing Israeli Prime Minister who invaded Lebanon in 1982, resulting in the killing of thousands. The doctrine is formulated around the idea that, while Israel gives itself the right to own nuclear weapons, its enemies in the Middle East must not. This belief continues to direct Israeli actions to this day.

The US support for Israel is not confined to ensuring the latter has ‘military edge’ over its neighbours in terms of traditional weapons, but to also ensure Israel remains the region’s only superpower, even if that entails escaping international accountability for the development of WMDs.

The collective efforts by Arab and other countries at the UNGA to create a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons are welcomed initiatives. It behoves everyone, Washington included, to join the rest of the world in finally forcing Israel to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty, a first but critical step towards long-delayed accountability.

November 30, 2022 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , | 2 Comments

Russia, China slam Israel’s ‘disproportionate use of force’ against Palestinians

Press TV – November 29, 2022

Russia and China have strongly denounced Israeli regime’s excessive use of force against Palestinians amid heightened tensions in the occupied territories.

Speaking at a UN Security Council briefing on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian issue, Russia’s deputy UN ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy slammed Israel’i regime’s “disproportionate use of force” in the occupied Palestinian territories.

He also warned that the regime’s “unilateral steps”, including expansion of settlements, seizure of Palestinian property, demolition of Palestinian-owned housings, arbitrary arrests, violation of the status quo of al-Quds’ holy sites continue to create “irreversible facts on the ground”.

Polyanskiy further noted that Israeli regime’s “arbitrary illegitimate actions reach beyond the limits of West Bank and Gaza and affect the neighboring Arab states, whose sovereignty was violated on numerous occasions”, referring to Israeli strikes against Syria and Lebanon.

The envoy also slammed Washington, Tel Aviv’s staunch ally, for repeatedly blocking UN Security Council resolutions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The Palestinian problem is … being driven out of the international agenda by the United States, who blocked the efforts of the Quartet of international intermediaries for the Middle East and precluded adoption of any meaningful decisions by the Security Council,” he asserted.

Speaking at the same meeting, China’s Ambassador to the UN envoy, Zhang Jun, also expressed his country “deep concern” about the deteriorating security situation in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Referring to 2022 being the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank since 2005, Zhang said Beijing condemns “all indiscriminate attacks on civilians, deplores the grave violations against children, opposes the excessive use of force by security forces”, and called for holding the perpetrators accountable.

The ambassador also referred to dire humanitarian and economic situation in the Gaza Strip, urging Israel to lift its 15-year blockade on the coastal enclave.

“We call on Israel to ease restrictions on the movement of people and humanitarian, reconstruction materials into and out of the Gaza Strip, to lift the blockade on Gaza as soon as possible, and to effectively create conditions for the development of Palestinian communities in the West Bank,” said Zhang.

He also called for an end to Israeli settlement activities that he said is a roadblock in so-called two-state solution to the conflict.

“The continued expansion of settlement activities that encroach on the Palestinian land, swallow up Palestinian resources and violate Palestine’s right to self-determination have made a contiguous, independent and sovereign state of Palestine even more elusive,” he said.

“China urges Israel to cease all settlement activities and return to the right track of the two-state solution.”

Zhang urged the UNSC to “support the Palestinian people in restoring and exercising their inalienable rights”, saying “On issues concerning the future and fate of the Palestinian people, no one has the right to veto.”

Israeli forces have recently been conducting overnight raids and killings in the northern occupied West Bank, mainly in the cities of Jenin and Nablus, where new groups of Palestinian resistance fighters have been formed.

November 30, 2022 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , | 2 Comments

US-Turkiye brinkmanship won’t reach a point of no return

Conflict between Ankara and Washington over Syria will likely see the two drift apart, with Turkiye aligning more closely with Eurasian powers.

By MK Bhadrakumar | The Cradle | November 28, 2022

The series of airstrikes against Kurdish militants in northern Syria by Turkish jets in the past week come amid heightened concerns over Ankara’s threat to launch a ground operation. Such actions are not without precedent, yet have thus far achieved little in terms of eradicating the security challenges posed by US-backed Kurdish fighters.

Turkiye is today addressing an existential challenge to its national security and sovereignty, stemming from the United States’ quasi-alliance with Kurdish groups in Syria over the past decade – with whom Ankara has been battling for far longer.

However, this issue is playing out within a much broader regional backdrop today. Russia now has a permanent presence in Syria and is itself locked in an existential struggle with the US in Ukraine and the Black Sea. Iran-US tensions are also acute and President Joe Biden has openly called for the overthrow of the Iranian government.

Opposing the US occupation of Syria

Suffice to say, the Syrian government, which has demanded the removal of illegal US troops from one-third of its territory for years, enjoys a congruence of interests with Turkiye like never before, particularly in opposing the American military presence in Syria.

For the US, on the other hand, continued occupation of Syria is crucial in geopolitical terms, given that country’s geography on the northern tier of the West Asian region which borders Iran and the Caucasus to the north and east, Turkiye and the Black Sea to the north, Israel to the south, and the Eastern Mediterranean to the west.

All of that would have a great bearing on the outcome of the epochal struggle for the control of the Eurasian landmass – the Heartland and the Geographical Pivot of history as Sir Halford J. Mackinder once described it in evocative terms – by Washington and NATO to counter Russia’s resurgence and China’s rise.

China’s involvement in the Astana process

A curious detail at this point assumes larger-than-life significance in the period ahead: Beijing is messaging its interest in joining the Astana process on Syria. Moscow’s presidential envoy for Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, stated recently that Russia is convinced that China’s involvement as an observer in the Astana format would be valuable.

Interestingly, Lavrentiev was speaking after the 19th international meeting on Syria in the Astana format with his counterparts from Turkiye and Iran on November 15.

“We believe that China’s participation in the Astana format would be very useful. Of course, we proposed this option. The Iranians agreed with this, while the Turkish side is considering it and has taken a pause before making a decision,” he explained.

Lavrentiev noted that Beijing could provide “some assistance as part of the Syrian settlement, improve the lives of Syrian citizens, and in reconstruction.”

The Chinese Foreign Ministry promptly responded to the Russian invitation, confirming that Beijing “attaches great importance to this format and is ready to work with all its participants to restore peace and stability in Syria.”

Lavrentiev didn’t miss the opportunity to taunt Washington, saying: “Of course, I believe that if the Americans returned to the Astana format, that would also be very useful. If two countries like the United States and China were present as observers in the Astana format, that would be a very good step, a good signal for the international community, and in general in the direction of the Syrian settlement.”

However, there is no question of the Biden Administration working with Russia, Turkiye, Iran, and China on a Syrian settlement at the present time. Reports keep appearing that the US has been transferring ISIS fighters from Syria to Ukraine to fight Russian forces, and to Afghanistan to stir up the pot in Central Asia.

The Astana troika are in unison, demanding the departure of US  occupation forces from Syria. Moscow knows fully well too that the US hopes to work toward shuttering Russian bases in Syria.

Turkiye’s pursuit of the US’s Kurdish allies

In fact, the aerial operations in Syria that Ankara ordered last Sunday followed a terrorist strike in Istanbul a week ago by Kurdish separatists, killing at least six people and injuring more than 80 others. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the air strikes were “just the beginning” and that his Armed Forces “will topple the terrorists by land at the most convenient time.”

Turkish security agencies have nabbed the bomber – a Syrian woman named Ahlam Albashir who was allegedly trained by the US military. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre hurriedly issued a statement to calm that storm: “The United States strongly condemns the act of violence that took place today in Istanbul, Turkiye.”

But Turkiye’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu reacted caustically to the American missive, saying that Washington’s condolence message was like “a killer being the first to show up at a crime scene.”

Conceivably, with Erdogan facing a crucial election in the coming months, the Biden Administration is pulling out all the stops to prevent the ruling AKP party from winning another mandate to rule Turkiye.

The Turkish “swing state” is crucial for US plans

The US feels exasperated with Erdogan for pushing ahead with independent foreign policies that could see Turkiye joining the BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and deepening his strategic ties with Russia and China – and most important, steadily mark distance from Washington and NATO’s containment strategies against Russia and China.

Turkiye has become a critically important “swing state” at this stage in the post-cold war era. Erdogan’s effort to bolster the country’s strategic autonomy lethally undermines the western strategy to impose its global hegemony.

While Erdogan keep’s Washington guessing about his next move, his airstrikes in northern Syria hit targets very close to US bases there. The Pentagon has warned that the strikes threaten the safety of American military personnel. The Pentagon statement represents the strongest condemnation by the US of its NATO ally in recent times.

Russian diplomacy forestalls Syria ground incursion 

Unsurprisingly, Russia is acting as a moderating influence on Turkiye. Lavrentyev said last Wednesday that Moscow has tried to convince Ankara to “refrain from conducting full-scale ground operations” inside Syria. The Russian interest lies in encouraging Erdogan to engage with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and pool their efforts to curb the activities of Kurdish terrorists.

Indeed, the probability is low that Erdogan will order ground incursions into Syria. This also seems to be the assessment of local Kurdish groups.

US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) Commander Mazloum Kobane Abdi, who is the Pentagon’s key interlocutor in northern Syria, has been quoted as saying that while he has received intelligence that Turkiye has alerted its local proxies to prepare for a ground offensive, the Biden administration could still convince Erdogan to back off.

That said, Erdogan can make things difficult for the US and eventually even force the evacuation of its estimated 900 military troops, shutting down the Pentagon’s lucrative oil smuggling operation in Syria and abandoning its training camps for ex-ISIS fighters in northern and eastern Syria.

But the US is unlikely to take matters to a point of no return. A retrenchment in Syria at the present juncture will weaken the US regional strategies, not only in West Asia, but also in the adjoining Black Sea region and the Caucasus, in the southern periphery of the Eurasian landmass.

From Erdogan’s perspective too, it is not in his interest to burn bridges with the west. A bridge in disrepair remains a bridge nonetheless, which would have its selective uses for Erdogan in the times of multipolarity that lie ahead.

November 28, 2022 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Holy Land Foundation 5 are the victims. The perpetrators of the ‘war on terror’ need to be brought to justice

By Iqbal Jassat | MEMO | November 26, 2022

The US’ destructive wars on Muslim countries launched in the wake of 9/11 under the misplaced rubric known notoriously as the “War on Terror” spawned senseless deaths and bloodshed on an unprecedented scale.

The George W. Bush administration, heavily infested with neoconservatives and Likudniks, contemptuously ignored and wilfully disregarded the sovereign status of Muslim lands by unleashing invasions, bombings, massacres and, ultimately, occupying them.

In a gross display of raw power, the US shamelessly sought to demonstrate its unchallenged position as a military superpower to refashion the world in its image.

Since the unmistakable target of US belligerence was Islam and Muslims, it adopted a well-worn Israeli strategy by dehumanising victims as “terrorists”. The tactic was designed to fool the world by claiming that the war was not on “good Muslims” but only the “bad ones” depicted as “terrorists”.

Against this backdrop, one is reminded of the extent of maliciousness associated with the War on Terror paradigm and the abuse of justice flowing therefrom.

A classic example in this regard is the case of what became known as the “Holy Land Foundation Five (HLF5)”.

Fourteen years ago, five highly respected US-based Palestinian academics were unfairly targeted and jailed for providing humanitarian aid to orphans and widows in Palestine.

They have been described as the “Holy Land Five” who were actively involved in the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) based in Texas.

The HLF was, at the time, the largest Muslim welfare and charity organisation in the US until it was singled out and hounded by the Bush administration and Israeli forces.

Using the cover of the War on Terror and fuelled by hostile Zionist agencies who profiled the HLF as a “nest of terror”, it was shut down in December 2001 by US authorities.

The case against the “Holy Land five” led to the wrongful conviction and unjust long-term imprisonment of five highly respected Palestinian men. Three of them – Mufid Abdulqader, Ghassan Elashi and Shukri Abu Baker – remain imprisoned today.

The two others, Abdulrahman Odeh and Mohammed El-Mezain, sentenced to 15 years each, were released in 2020 and 2022, respectively.

An intriguing yet deplorable aspect of the highly politically charged case is the fact that these men were convicted on false charges of “providing material support to terrorism,” even though they were never even accused of funding the legitimate armed resistance to Israeli occupation and colonisation.

According to various reports, including by Samidoun, interestingly, the same charities funded by the Holy Land Foundation were also funded by the International Red Cross and even USAID, the US Agency for International Development.

In other words, the criteria for aiding or funding “terrorism” ought to have been applicable to the International Red Cross and USAID, rendering them “guilty” as well.

However, as is known, the Holy Land Foundation was selectively targeted and borne out by the fact that after failing to convict the HLF5 in their first attempt, the US judiciary allowed untested “evidence” by an anonymous Israeli intelligence agent.

The War on Terror has and remains a playbook on how to subvert justice to gain political goals. The dubious, torture-produced “evidence” by a faceless Israeli spook against the HLF5 was typical sensationalism and anti-Palestinian bigotry.

Though Israel’s subversion of US politics is a well-known documented fact, it cannot remain unchallenged. By the same token, the ill-conceived path of destruction known as the War on Terror needs to be derailed, and its perpetrators brought to justice.

And the case of the three men who remain behind bars deserves a global campaign to secure their freedom.

November 26, 2022 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Islamophobia, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 7 Comments

Israel to expand regional activities with US army

The Cradle | November 25, 2022

On 24 November, the Israeli Chief of Staff, General Aviv Kochavi, announced a significant expansion of joint activities with the US army in the region, indicating that Israel would work at a faster pace against the “positioning” of the Iranian government in the Middle East, according to Al-Arabiya news.

“To enhance our capabilities in the face of the challenges in the region, joint activity with CENTCOM will be significantly expanded in the near future. At the same time, the IDF will continue to act at an accelerated pace against the Iranian regime’s entrenchment in the region,” he said.

Kochavi returned from the United States on 24 November and met with US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley, with whom he discussed strengthening cooperation between the two military forces, according to Al-Arabiya.

The White House announced that US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan met with Aviv Kochavi in ​​Washington and discussed several issues during the meeting.

National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said in a statement on 21 November that Sullivan “affirmed the US administration’s firm support for Israel’s security, and the two sides exchanged views on a broad range of regional security issues of mutual interest.”

“Sullivan affirmed US President Joe Biden’s commitment to ensuring that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon,” she added.

Meanwhile, The Times of Israel reported that Kochavi told US military officials that the two countries should accelerate what he described as “offensive operations plans” against Iran.

On 19 November, US Forces Central Command (CENTCOM) chief Michael Erik Kurilla announced in Bahrain that a US task force will deploy more than 100 unmanned vessels by 2023 to “help ensure maritime security” in the Gulf region’s strategic waters, according to Mehr News Agency.

“By this time next year, Task Force 59 will bring together a fleet of over 100 unmanned surface and subsurface vessels operating together, communicating together, and providing maritime domain awareness,” Kurilla announced during the annual Manama dialogue conference.

The Pentagon has also been collaborating with Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other nations in West Asia over the past eight months to create a network of unmanned drones to counter Iran in the Persian Gulf.

November 25, 2022 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism | , , , | 2 Comments

A Very Different Global State of Affairs Takes Hold

By Alastair Crooke | Strategic Culture Foundation | November 21, 2022

How the world appears all depends on whether your gaze is firmly focussed on the hub of the wheel, or alternatively, were you to watch the wheel’s rotation around the hub – and the bearing it follows – you would see the world differently.

Looked at from a DC-centric perspective, all is still: Nothing (as it were), is moving geo-politically. Was there an election in the U.S.? Well, certainly there is no longer an ‘Election Day’ event as the new mechanics of ballots vs in-person voting, commencing up to 50 days earlier, and ploughing on, weeks after, has become far removed from the old notion of having ‘an election’, and an aggregate macro outcome.

From this ‘centric’ viewpoint, the Midterms change nothing – stasis.

So many of Biden’s policies were already in stone anyway – and beyond the ability of any Congress to change in the short run.

New legislation, if there were any, could be vetoed. And should the election ‘month’ end with the House controlled by Republicans and the Senate controlled by Democrats, there might not be any legislation at all, because of partisanship and an inability to compromise.

More to the point, Biden anyway can rule for the next 2 years through Executive Order and bureaucratic inertia – and not need the Congress at all. In other words, the composition of Congress may not matter that much.

But now, turn your gaze to the rotation around the ‘hub’, and what do you see? The rim spinning wildly. It seizes more and more traction on the ground and has clear directionality.

The biggest pivot around the hub? Well probably, President Xi of China travelling to Riyadh to meet Mohammad bin Salman (MbS). The wheel rim here digs deep for a firm grip on bedrock, as Saudi Arabia makes its pivot toward the BRICS. Xi likely is going to Riyadh to seal the details of Saudi’s accession to the BRICS and the terms of China’s future ‘Oil Accord’ with Saudi Arabia. And that may be the beginning to the end to the petrodollar system – as whatever is agreed in terms of the Chinese mode of payment for oil will mesh with Russo-Chinese plans eventually to move Eurasia onto a new trading currency (far away from the dollar).

Saudi Arabia gravitating BRICS-wards means other Gulf and Mid East – states such as Egypt – leaning BRICS-wards also.

Another pivot: The Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said after this week’s explosion in Istanbul: “We do not accept the condolence message of the U.S. Embassy. We understand the message that was given to us, we received the message that was given to us”. Soylu then dismissed the U.S. condolence as akin to “a killer being first to show up at a crime scene”.

Let’s be clear: The minister just told the U.S. to go sc**w itself. This unleashing of raw anger comes just as Turkey has agreed to join with Russia to establish a new gas hub in Turkey and is participating with Russia in a massive oil and gas investment and co-operation deal with Iran. Turkey too, is veering BRICS-wards.

And, as Turkey veers away from one ‘hub’, much of the Turkic sphere will take Turkey’s lead.

These two events – from Xi’s meeting with MbS’ thumbing his nose at the U.S., to Turkey’s fury at the terrorism in Istanbul – clearly dovetail together to mark a strategic Middle East pivot – both in terms of energy and monetary frameworks, towards the unfolding Eurasian free trade sphere.

Then comes the news from last Thursday: Iran says that it has developed a high-precision hypersonic missile. General Hajizadeh said the Iranian hypersonic ballistic missile can reach more than five times the speed of sound and, as such, it will be able to breach all present systems of anti-missile defence.

Simply put: Iran essentially already is a nuclear threshold state (but not a nuclear weapons state). The remarkable technical achievement of producing a hypersonic high-precision missile (which still eludes the U.S.), is a paradigm-changer.

Strategic nukes make no sense in a highly mix-populated, small Middle East – and now, there is no need for Iran to move towards becoming a weapons state. So, what would be the point to a complicated containment strategy (i.e. the JCPOA), oriented towards hindering an outcome that has become overtaken by new technology? A hypersonic ballistic missile capacity makes tactical nukes redundant. And hypersonic missiles are more effective; more easily deployed.

The problem for the U.S. and Israel is that Iran has done it – it has leaped beyond the JCPOA containment cage.

On top of that, a few days earlier, Iran also announced that it had launched a ballistic missile, carrying a satellite into space. If so, Iran now has ballistic missiles capable of reaching, not only Israel, but Europe too. Furthermore, Iran is reported to soon receive 60 SU-35 aircraft, as just one part to its rapidly evolving relationship with Russia, sealed last week with Nikolai Patrushev (Russia’s Security Council Secretary) in Tehran.

Again, to be clear, Russia has just acquired a highly potent kinetic force multiplier; access to Iran’s sanctions-busting rolodex of contacts and strategies, and a full partner to Moscow’s big play of Eurasia becoming a commodities super-oligopoly.

Simply put, as Iran enlists as a force multiplier to the Russia-China axis, so too will Iraq, Syria, Hizbullah and the Houthis slip along a somewhat similar trajectory.

Whilst the European ‘security architecture’ remains still frozen in a tight NATO, anti-Russian grip, West Asia’s security architecture is dissolving away from the old U.S. and Israeli-led hard polarisation of a Sunni sphere vs Shi’i Iran (i.e. the so-called Abraham Accords), and is re-forming around a new security architecture being shaped by Russia and China.

This makes sense. Turkey prizes its Turkic civilisational heritage. Iran clearly is a civilisational state, and MbS plainly wants his kingdom to be widely accepted as one, too (and not as just a U.S. dependency). The point of the SCO format is that it is ‘pro-autonomy’ and is opposed to any singularity of ideology. In fact, by being civilisational in concept, it becomes anti-ideological and opposed to tight binary (with us, or against us) alliances. Membership does not require endorsement of each other partner’s particular policies, provided they do not impinge on others’ sovereignty.

In effect, the whole of West Asia – to one degree or another – is being lifted up into this evolving Eurasian economic and security paradigm.

And, simply said, since Africa is already enlisted into the China camp, the African component to MENA is trending strongly Eurasia-wards, as well. The Global South’s affiliation too, largely can be taken for granted.

Where does this leave the old ‘hub’? It has Europe fully in its control. For now, yes…

However research published by France’s École de Guerre Economique suggests that whilst Europe has, since WW2, “lived in a state of the unspoken” in respect to its full-spectrum dependency on Washington, as Russia sanctions take their catastrophic effect on Europe, “a very different state of affairs takes hold”. Consequently, politicians, and the public alike, struggle to identify “who truly is their enemy”.

Well, the collective view, based on interviews with French intelligence experts (i.e. the French Deep State) is very clear: 97% percent consider the U.S. to be the foreign power that “most threatens” the “economic interests” of France. And they see it as a problem that must be resolved.

Of course, the U.S. will not easily let Europe go. Nonetheless, if parts of the Establishment can speak thus, then something is moving and afoot, beneath the surface. The report underlines naturally that the EU might have a trade surplus of 150 billion euros with the U.S., but the latter would never willingly allow this to translate into ‘strategic autonomy’. And any gain in autonomy is achieved against the constant backdrop of – and more than offset by – “strong geopolitical and military pressure” from the U.S. at all times.

Could the Nord Stream sabotage have been the straw that broke the camel’s back? In part, it was a trigger, but Europe hides its diverse old hatreds and long-nursed vindictiveness under ‘a Brussels lid of easy money’. But this pertains only so long as the EU remains a glorified ATM – states insert their debit-cards and withdraw cash. The concealed animosities are repressed, and monetarily lubricated into quiescence.

The ATM however, is in trouble (economic contraction, de-industrialisation and austerity cometh!); and as the ATM withdrawals’ window winnows down, so too the lid holding down the old animosities and tribal feelings will not hold for long. Indeed, the demons are rising – and are readily visible even now.

And finally, will the Washington ‘hub’ hold? Does it retain the resources to manage so many stress-test events – financial, systemic and political – all arriving synchronistically? We must wait to see.

In retrospect, the ‘Hub’ is not ‘on the move’. It has moved already. It is just that so many are stuck seeing an ‘empty space’ that once was occupied by something past, but which somehow still somehow lingers on, in visual memory, as a ‘shade’ of its earlier solidity.

November 22, 2022 Posted by | Economics | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Interview with US Ambassador Peter Ford

Free West Media | November 18, 2022

Steven Sahiounie of MidEastDiscourse interviewed Ambassador Peter Ford to hear his expert analysis of important issues developing in the region.

Israel, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey are neighbors in an increasingly unstable Middle East, in which Saudi Arabia plays a key role.

The US has meddled in the Middle East for decades and is responsible for the destruction of several countries who have not recovered from failed American policies.

Peter Ford served as the British ambassador to Bahrain from 1999 to 2003 and Syria from 2003 to 2006, and is currently the London-based Co-Chairman of the British Syrian Society. He is an Arabist with long established expertise in the Middle East.

Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies recently came back to power in “Israel”. In your opinion what does this mean for the Palestinians?

It makes no difference. Those who believe that one Israeli government is different from another are fools. Every Israeli government supports the occupation and practices repression. Any differences are purely optical.

That said, the participation of overt racists in Netanyahu’s government increases the chances that the US will distance itself from Israel in matters of secondary importance.

Lebanon is in the midst of a financial and social collapse. In your opinion, will the Israeli regime take advantage of the crisis and attack Lebanon?

Israel is already viciously attacking Lebanon – economically. The Israeli/US strategy is to avoid war, which they would lose, but instead to create enough suffering in Lebanon to make the Lebanese people turn against Hezbollah. In particular, they are trying to block oil reaching Lebanon from Iran. This is similar to their strategy towards Syria.

The UN Special Rapporteur has called for the end of sanctions on Syria because of the continuing suffering. Do you think there is any hope in removing the sanctions which are crippling the daily life of Syrians?

Sadly I see no prospect of sanctions on Syria being lifted or eased in the foreseeable future. It costs the US nothing to apply them and the US against all evidence persists in believing that sanctions weaken popular support for the Syrian government, or pretending to believe they weaken the government simply because it would be embarrassing to lift them. Lifting sanctions would look like an admission of failure and a concession to Russia and Iran.

Sanctions on Syria cannot be analyzed without taking the geopolitical situation into account. To some degree Syria is paying part of the price for US mishandling of its relations with Russia and Iran.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has not bowed down to pressure by US President Joe Biden. In your opinion, what will be the cost that Saudi Arabia has to pay?

The cost will be zero. On the contrary, Saudi defiance of the US over oil prices shows that the balance of power between the two has shifted and that the US is a paper tiger where Saudi Arabia is concerned. Let us not forget that the US arms industry has become highly dependent on sales to the Gulf, and the US has invested heavily in keeping Saudi Arabia away from rapprochement with Iran. Its leverage is minimal. It was different when MBS was an international pariah over Khashoggi, but time has done its work of prompting amnesia if not forgiveness. I expect to see more Saudi defiance of the US.

For the past few months, we have been hearing reports from the Turkish side of overtures at repairing the relationship between Turkey and Syria. In your opinion, will this have an effect on ending terrorist control in Idlib?

I am more optimistic about Idlib today than I have been for ages. Time is also doing its work here – demonstrating to the Turks that their Syria policy has been a total failure. That policy has failed to remove the Syrian government, failed to establish stability on Turkey’s border and failed to create conditions for the return of Syrian refugees. The burden of those refugees is felt especially acutely with the approach of presidential elections in Turkey. Whether Erdogan is serious about rapprochement with Syria remains however to be seen.

Steven Sahiounie is a two-time award-winning journalist

November 18, 2022 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel produces weapons of mass destruction under West’s protection: Syria

Press TV – November 15, 2022

Permanent Representative of Syria to the United Nations, Bassam Sabbagh, says Israel must join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and eliminate its stockpile of nuclear weapons in order for a nuclear-weapon-free zone to be established in the Middle East.

Speaking at the Third Session of the Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and other Weapons of Mass Destruction in New York, Sabbagh lambasted Western countries, particularly the United States, for their generous support of the Israeli regime.

He argued that the approach has emboldened the regime to possess and develop more such munitions and to refuse to subject its nuclear facilities to international supervision, which have posed serious threats to regional peace and security.

He also complained that the tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons failed to introduce practical steps that would guarantee the effective implementation of the 1995 Middle East Resolution, which serves as a fundamental pillar in supporting the non-proliferation regime on the regional level.

The senior Syrian diplomat said Damascus supported the UN General Assembly resolution as a path parallel to the implementation of the Middle East Resolution, and not an alternative to it.

“Ever since the adoption of the resolution, Syria has cooperated with regional states participating in the conference to achieve their common goals. The progress made by the conference indicates the sincere and serious efforts made by participating countries, and reveals, on the other hand, the disregard of Israel and the United States for the international will. This practice goes hand in hand with their obstructionism to create a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction,” Sabbagh noted.

“Syria considers establishment of a Middle East free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction as an important measure on the path of disarmament, empowerment of the non-proliferation regime, and a serious contribution to the protection of regional and international peace and security,” he said.

“Syria is a signatory to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and tabled a draft resolution in 2002 and 2003 aimed at establishment of a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction. The United States, however, aborted that initiative to protect Israel,” the Syrian diplomat said.

Israel, which pursues a policy of deliberate ambiguity about its nuclear weapons, is estimated to possess 200 to 400 nuclear warheads in its arsenal, making it the sole possessor of non-conventional arms in West Asia.

The illegitimate entity has, however, refused to either allow inspections of its military nuclear facilities or sign the NPT.

What has emboldened Tel Aviv to accelerate its nuclear activities, according to observers, is the support from the United States and Europe, the two parties most critical of Iran’s peaceful nuclear program.

November 15, 2022 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Made in Britain: How London handpicks Iraqi leaders

An investigation into how the British government groomed young, impressionable Iraqis to serve as their political agents.

By Kit Klarenberg | The Cradle | November 15, 2022

Throughout the 20th century, it was frequently said by residents of West Asia, “lift up a mullah’s beard, and you’ll see the words ‘Made in England’ written underneath it.”

Such cynicism is understandable, given Britain’s history of covertly co-opting Imams and sheikhs to further its malign interests across the region.

Yet explosive leaked files reviewed by The Cradle show that this time-tested clandestine strategy hasn’t waned as the traditional role of religious teachers in West Asia is increasingly supplanted, or at least challenged, by politicians ostensibly elected by democratic vote.

Rather, it has evolved and been asserted in more modern forms, which are just as insidious, but may perhaps be even more effective in ensuring West Asian leaders at every level can be reliably depended upon to do London’s bidding.

Another youth initiative

The documents reviewed by The Cradle relate to a Foreign Office project in Baghdad, dubbed “Youth Political Leadership, “set to run for at least a year from August 2016. An accompanying “statement of requirements” not for public consumption laid out its objectives in stark detail. In brief, London sought to “identify young Iraqis…who will join the political establishment,” and train them in “values; representation; and political skills.”

This schooling would “ideally” be complete by Spring 2017, so “successful graduates” could “participate as candidates in the 2017 (or 2018, circumstances depending) local elections.” The desired end goal was that Iraq’s parliament and government alike would be “replenished with a professionalised and young class of political figures” who could be depended upon to serve London’s interests.

“The influx of these young Iraqis,” the statement explained, stood to “benefit” Britain, in particular by facilitating the spook-infested National Security Council’s strategy for Baghdad.

‘No functioning government’

Construction and management of the training program was outsourced to private contractors who were tasked with putting together a “comprehensive plan” for “gender diverse” Iraqis aged 27 or below with “a realistic prospect of entering the political sphere,” including a dedicated “curriculum” that would inculcate “professional ethics” and “hard political skills” in students, to ensure they could optimally “influence” voters.

Trainees were to be subject to intensive “monitoring and assessment” both during and after the course, with top performers whisked to London for a state-funded “study tour,” where they would be assigned “individual mentors” to “help support their career ambitions.”

Subsequently, a “graduate network” would be operated on- and offline in cooperation with the British embassy in Baghdad, to ensure “regular contact” between students and the Foreign Office – and thus MI6 – “through their political careers.”

Prospective candidates would be rigorously vetted before enrolment to ensure they had “an appropriate vision for Iraq,” with a “realistic” prospect of, and plan for, entering the political sphere upon graduation, such as “being chosen as a parliamentary advisor or selected to run as a provincial council member.”

These individuals would then be rigorously taught the Foreign Office’s approved curriculum, so as to instill them with “the right [emphasis added] technical knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours” in candidates.

“Practical training on how to function as a political representative,” such as “campaign work (e.g. canvassing, usage of social media),” and “the skills needed to collaboratively function as a member of the legislature,” would also be provided.

Adam Smith International

London’s call was answered by Adam Smith International (ASI). The company clearly grasped the urgency of the project. In detailed submissions to the Foreign Office, it noted that “recent events clearly indicate there is pressing need to address the failure of the Iraqi political establishment to provide an effective government,” making repeated reference to large-scale protests in Baghdad’s historic Tahrir Square, which occurred in July 2016.

Those incendiary scenes were part of several wide-ranging upheavals that unfolded across Iraq that year, spurred by anger over high-level corruption, and never-ending government gridlock.

Incidentally, these were themselves by-products of the byzantine political structure imposed upon Baghdad in the wake of the illegal US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Western occupation forces enforced strict ethnic, sectarian, and party quotas on every office of state, ensuring perpetual division, inertia, and gridlock – essentially an inability to address basic public needs.

In the ensuing power vacuum, sectarian groups rose to the fore as the primary means by which average citizens could pressure parliament into implementing vital reforms. This development was no doubt extremely unwelcome to London – after all, many of these movements were Shia-led, raising the obvious prospect of neighboring Iran’s influence increasing considerably within the country.

This concern is reflected in ASI’s submissions. In bemoaning “the absence of a functioning government,” and emphasizing the resultant need to identify and groom future leaders promptly, the company noted firebrand Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr was a leading figure in the 2016 protest movement.

“Unless steps are taken to provide avenues for the next generation of Iraqis to enter the legislature, the existing political cadres will continue to dominate the scene, leading to rising frustration and increasing social unrest,” ASI cautioned. “Practical assistance and continuing career support has the potential to stymy the rising tide of frustration among the youth of Iraq in the short term.”

Meddling in Iraq’s internal affairs

In a perverse irony, ASI purportedly played a pivotal role in shaping Iraq’s unworkable political system from its initial stages, enforcing the precise construction which the Foreign Office became resolved to shatter.

In sections of the leaked files outlining its experience of working in Iraq, the company noted that since 2004, it had on behalf of the British government “[provided] assistance to centre of government institutions in Iraq,” including “[developing] key parts of the machinery of government.”

Its in-country team was even said to have “worked closely” with representatives of the Prime Minister’s and Deputy Prime Minister’s offices, granting them a “detailed understanding of the functioning of the Iraqi political system.”

“ASI will leverage the contacts and experience from this project to help facilitate the outreach among political parties,” the contractor pledged. Little did those who ASI previously installed and shored up in office know, that in assisting their Foreign Office friends identify recruits for the leadership training program, they were signing their own political death warrants.

A region-wide strategy

Evidently, the assorted individuals and organizations serving British interests in West Asia at any given time are highly expendable – and should the governance structure they’re drafted to run on London’s behalf perform poorly, or become difficult to effectively control, another must be constructed in its place, filled with all-new representatives in order to create the bogus impression of “change.”

All along, the Foreign Office’s hand in steering a government’s composition and policies, and picking its public faces, will remain hidden, obscured by layer-upon-layer of private contractors, and lofty rhetoric about progress and democracy.

The leaked files exposed here represent a particularly candid insight into how Britain pursues its imperial ambitions in the modern day – but just one. The Cradle has previously exposed a similar connivance in Lebanon, wherein London covertly recruited “agents of change” from among the country’s youth, teaching them how to “maximise their impact” and boost their “name recognition and credibility,” in order to eventually elevate them to parliament.

It stands to reason that Baghdad and Beirut are far from alone in this regard. As such, it behooves all residents of West Asia to ask themselves for whom their elected representatives are truly working, and what interests they ultimately serve.

November 15, 2022 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 2 Comments

Pentagon exploits post 9/11 laws to wage ‘secret wars’ worldwide: Report

The Cradle | November 9, 2022

A report released last week by the New York University School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice details how the US Department of Defense (DoD) has been allowed to covertly deploy troops and wage secret wars over the past two decades in dozens of countries across the globe.

Among the nations in West Asia affected by these so-called ‘security cooperation authorities’ are LebanonIraqSyria, and Yemen; however, they also include many African and Latin American nations.

Known as ‘security cooperation authorities,’ they were passed by the US Congress in the years following the 11 September attacks, and are a continuation of the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), a piece of legislation that has been stretched by four successive governments.

According to the report, the AUMF covers “a broad assortment of terrorist groups, the full list of which the executive branch long withheld from Congress and still withholds from the public.”

Following in this tradition, the ‘security cooperation authorities’ being abused by the Pentagon are Section 333 and Section 127e of Title 10 of the United States Code (USC).

Section 333 authorizes the US army to “train and equip foreign forces anywhere in the world,” while Section 127e authorizes the Pentagon to “provide support to foreign forces, paramilitaries, and private individuals who are in turn supporting US counterterrorism operations,” with a spending limit of $100,000,000 per fiscal year.

However, thanks to the vague definition of ‘support’ and ‘training’ in the text of these laws, both Section 333 and Section 127e programs have been abused to target “adversarial” groups under a strained interpretation of constitutional self-defense; they have also allowed the US army to develop and control proxy forces that fight on behalf of – and sometimes alongside – their own.

As a result of this, in dozens of countries, these programs have been used as a springboard for hostilities, with the Pentagon often declining to inform Congress or the US public about their secret operations under the reasoning that the incidents are “too minor to trigger statutory reporting requirements.”

“Researchers and reporters uncovered Section 127e programs not only in Afghanistan and Iraq, but also in Cameroon, Egypt, Kenya, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen,” the report highlights.

Researchers also point out that defense authorities “have given little indication of how [they] interpret Section 333 and 127e.”

Even more concerning, and ignoring the damage caused by these ‘anti-terror’ laws, the US Congress recently expanded the Pentagon’s security cooperation authorities, particularly with Section 1202 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Section 1202 allows the US army to allow “irregular warfare operations” against “rogue states” like Iran or North Korea, or “near-peers,” like Russia and China.

The report comes at a time when the US army and its proxy militias are accused of illegally occupying vast regions of Syria and Yemen, looting oil from the war-torn countries, just over a year after their brutal occupation of Afghanistan ended. Moreover, a former US official on Tuesday revealed that anti-Iran militias are being armed in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR), where both the CIA and the Mossad are known to operate.

November 11, 2022 Posted by | Deception, Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The West bullies Iran, again

BY M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | INDIAN PUNCHLINE | NOVEMBER 7, 2022

The manner in which Tehran handled its drone deal with Russia has been somewhat clumsy. The fact that the first ‘leak’ on this topic originated from none other than President Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan should have alerted Tehran that something sinister was afoot. 

Instead, for whatever reasons, Tehran went into a flat denial mode. And now in a turnaround, we are given to understand that Iran’s denial was factually correct, albeit not wholly true in content. Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian has acknowledged that the “drone part is true, and we provided Russia with a small number of drones months before the Ukraine war.” 

The minister added the caveat that “This fuss made by some Western countries, that Iran has provided missiles and drones to Russia to help the war in Ukraine — the missile part is completely wrong.” 

Howsoever good Iran’s drone technology might be, it has not been a game changer for Russia in the war in Ukraine. Russia’s own missile capability is surprising even the western experts who had predicted months ago that it was “running out” of its inventory. In fact, the missile strikes may continue until Ukraine collapses and the West has no meaningful interlocutor left in Kiev’s rubble. 

Russia and Iran seem to have got mired in a controversy unnecessarily. What seems to have happened is that just as Iran did reverse engineering on US’ drone technology, Russians also did a good job to remake the Iranian kamikaze drones that were in its inventory prior to the special military operation in Ukraine. Kiev now says, after examining the debris of the Russian drones that it shot down, that they had Ukrainian parts, too! 

It stand to reason that the Russian defence industry picked something from Iran’s technology, something else from Ukraine’s, and came up with a startling “Russian model”. That probably explains the sophistry in Moscow’ consistent stance that it didn’t use Iranian drones. 

Amirabdollahian revealed that Iran offered to explain the situation to Ukrainian authorities and a meeting was even set up in Poland to clear the misunderstanding and restore Iran’s diplomatic ties with Kiev, but the Americans got it scuttled. Evidently, the US is not interested in a normalisation of Ukraine-Iran relations. Israel too would have an interest in keeping Iran at arm’s length from Kiev. The US and Israel would apprehend that a strong Iranian diplomatic presence in Kiev might work to Russia’s advantage.  

Be that as it may, Amirabdollahian’s candid admission will have consequences. Iran possibly got carried away by the exhilarating feeling that a superpower stooped to source its military technology, and furthermore, relished the high publicity its drones  received — not to mention the embarrassment caused to Ukraine’s western patrons who watched helplessly when the Russian drones created panic on such a scale. 

However, belatedly, Iran realised the potential political and diplomatic fallout. In reality, all this “fuss,” as Amirabdollahian put it, stems from Tehran’s refusal to sign the EU draft nuclear agreement at Vienna, which infuriated Brussels and Washington, dashing their hopes that Iranian oil would come to the rescue of Europe by replacing the Russian oil imports that are being terminated w.e.f December 5. 

Again, Iran’s increased oil production was what the US was counting on to introduce tensions within the OPEC and split the cartel. 

According to a Spiegel report, Germany and eight other EU states have put together a new package of sanctions against Iran in Brussels on Wednesday, which contains 31 proposals targeting officials and entities in Iran connected with security affairs as well as companies, for their alleged “violence and repressions” in Iran. The alibi is human rights violations. 

Evidently, the West has reverted to its bullying tactic. President Biden has pledged to “free Iran” from its present political system — although the Americans know from past experience that public protests are nothing unusual for Iran but regime change remains a pipe dream.

Why is the West resuscitating the “Iran question” at this point? There are two underlying reasons — perhaps, three. One is, Benjamin Netanyahu’s victory in the Israeli election last Sunday virtually guarantees that Israel’s existential rivalry with Iran is once again in the centre stage of West Asian politics. Without that happening, Netanyahu will come under pressure to address the core issue in West Asia, namely, the Palestinian problem. 

As things stand, the “Iran question” will return to the centre stage of West Asian politics. There is a congruence of interests between Tel Aviv and Washington on that score at a time when there is going to be some friction inevitably in US-Israel relations, as the racist anti-Arab Religious Zionism alliance, Netanyahu’s latest coalition parters, contains elements that the US once regarded as terrorists. Whipping up a frenzy over Iran comes in handy for both Israel and the US.

But on the other hand, Netanyahu is realistic enough to know that it will be suicidal for Israel to attack Iran militarily without American support and second, that the Biden Administration has not yet entirely given up hope on a nuclear deal with Iran. 

Therefore, in the event of the midterms radically changing the profile of Congress to the detriment of the Biden Administration, trust Netanyahu to insert the Iran nuclear issue as a key template of US domestic politics and the US-Israel relations.

A second factor is the trajectory of the war in Ukraine. Although the proxy war is in the home stretch and the US and NATO are staring at the defeat and destruction of Ukraine, the Biden Administration cannot simply walk away in humiliation, since this is Europe and not the Hindu Kush, and the fate of the western alliance system is at a crossroads. 

Most certainly, US troops have appeared on Ukrainian soil and they can only be regarded as an “advance party.” Will Ukraine turn out to be another Syria, with the regions to the west of the Dnieper River — “the Rump” denuded of natural resources — coming under US occupation so that its NATO allies in the periphery do not jump into the fray of dormant ethnic tensions inherited from history to carve out their pieces out of the carcass? Or, will a US-led “coalition of the willing” be preparing to actually fight the Russian forces in eastern and southern Ukraine?

Either way, the point is, the strategic ties developing between Iran and Russia will remain a focal point for the West, Amirabdollahian’s “clarification” notwithstanding. It is only natural that in the conditions under sanctions, Russia’s external relations are in the cross-hairs of the US. Iran has a stellar record of rubbishing the “maximum pressure” strategy. 

Put differently, having Iran as an ally will be a strategic asset for Russia in a multipolar setting. Iran and the Eurasian Economic Union have decided to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement while Tehran is also working out swap deals involving Russian oil. Simply put, Europeans can keep their SWIFT for whatever it is worth and that is not going to make any difference to Russia or Iran — and the rest of the world is watching this happening in real time, especially in Iran’s neighbourhood where oil is traded in dollars. 

By now it is also clear to the US and its allies that JCPOA or no JCPOA, the overarching tilt toward Russia and China is Tehran’s version of the Israeli Iron Dome, in diplomacy. The bottom line is that Iran is becoming a role model for the Persian Gulf region, as is evident from the queue lengthening for membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, even as the parallel track of the Abraham Accords has disappeared in the endorheic basin of the Arabian Peninsula. 

November 7, 2022 Posted by | Economics | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

UK-Aided Ukrainian Attempt at Sabotaging Grain Deal to Backfire, Expert Says

Samizdat – 31.10.2022

MOSCOW – Ukraine attacked Russian naval ships that escorted vital grain exports in an attempt to escalate the hunger crisis for the world and blame it on Russia, but the move will likely backfire to make Africa and the Middle East wary of the West and more trustful of Moscow, French political commentator Charles Gave told Sputnik.

Russia quit the UN- and Turkey-brokered grain shipping deal on Saturday after its Black Sea naval ships and civil vessels were attacked in a drone strike that it said was coordinated by the UK. Russia, a leading global grain producer, promised to supply up to 500,000 tonnes of grain to the poorest countries free of charge in the coming months to offset shortfalls from Ukrainian exports.

“The only reason for this drone attack, which is a provocation that really threatens to stop altogether the delivery of grain from Ukraine, is the will to sabotage the grain agreement and present Russia as the arch-villain in the conflict,” Gave said.

He believes, however, that the opposite will likely happen.

“In the end the boomerang effect will probably be that African and Middle East countries will be made much more aware that they can count on Russian grain and that the West, by disrupting the export of grain through the Black Sea, is to blame for this new negative development,” he said.

The attack caused wheat and corn to trade higher on the global stock markets on Monday after the July grain deal saw cereal and vegetable oil prices drop to pre-conflict levels.

Gave, the founder of TVLibertes news channel, said Russia only stood to benefit from the Ukrainian drone strike because it would inflate its grain revenues, while its offer of free grain to those in need would strengthen its image as a reliable partner among the developing countries.

He also called Ukraine’s behavior irresponsible because it risked a deal that had been painstakingly negotiated by Turkey to stage a “public relations exercise and a provocation to create the buzz.”

“I see Russia gaining more and more capacity to influence ‘the rest of the world’ and turn developing countries away from the West,” Gave said. “The consequences are very bad for the countries of destination of the grain export. The West should stop involving itself more and more as a co-belligerent in the conflict and actively support negotiations,” he cautioned.

October 31, 2022 Posted by | Economics | , , , | 2 Comments