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Results of the First Round of Talks Between the USA and the Taliban

By Natalya Zamarayeva – New Eastern Outlook – 11.02.2019

January 2019 saw the conclusion of the first round of talks between the USA and the Taliban, which took place in Qatar. The Afghan Taliban and the official representatives of the USA reached preliminary agreement on three key issues:

– the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan within 18 months;

– an exchange of prisoners;

– the lifting of the travel ban on Taliban leaders, and their removal from the UN’s blacklist.

In turn the Taliban agreed, among other things, not to allow terrorist organisations, including Al Qaeda and DAESH or any other armed grouping to carry out attacks on Afghan civilians or authorities, the USA, or any of its allies.

The second round of talks is scheduled for the end of February 2019. The USA and the Taliban plan to sign an official agreement on the above points. The agreement is expected to be fairly strict. The Taliban delegation will be headed by its lead negotiator, Abdul Ghani Baradar.

After the above steps have been completed (in 2021), Afghanistan will embark on an internal regulation process, which will involve two stages:

– the entry into effect of a general ceasefire between the opposing sides;

– the formation of a temporary government, to be elected for a term of three years: the Taliban will nominate its own representatives for election to this body;

– the Taliban propose a reform of the Afghan police, including local police authorities (which have been accused of being extremely corrupt and of intimidating the public).

The Taliban’s leaders have declared that they are renouncing their claim to exclusive power in Afghanistan and that they recognise that peace in Afghanistan needs to be an inclusive process. They also promise to seek ways to involve the Afghan government in the peace and reconciliation process, and also to act in conjunction with existing authorities (whereas, during the period of the so-called Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, from 1996-2001, they imposed a strict form of Sharia law).

The talks between the USA and the Taliban (December 2018- January 2019) are a small part of the larger Afghan dialogue process, which has, traditionally, involved four parties: the Taliban, the USA, the Afghan National Unity Government, and Pakistan.

In addition to the US troops and the armed opposition, made up of Taliban militants, there is a third party in the Afghan conflict: the Afghan national security forces, which seek to protect the country’s constitution and its head of state, President Ashraf Ghani.

But for the whole duration of the anti-terrorist campaign in Afghanistan, from 2001 to date, the Taliban have refused to take part in any direct talks with representatives of the National Unity Government, which they consider to be illegitimate. Ashraf Ghani has been highly critical of this stance, which has forced him and his government into the position of an onlooker, while the Taliban and the USA determine the country’s fate between them.

Washington has declared that its strategic goal, in its talks with the Taliban, is to get the Taliban and the Afghan National Unity Government to sit around the negotiating table together. In other words, to “force” the Taliban to accept the country’s Constitution and current state institutions. According to the White House, this process will take 18 months, and will be accompanied by the progressive withdrawal of US troops.

According to the White House’s roadmap, with the beginning of the dialogue, Afghanistan will enter into a new phase: an internal regulation process. Which raises the obvious question – will that process actually take place, and, if so, when, and under what circumstances? The Pushtuns are a hospitable people, but they keep their word. The lack of any direct dialogue between the Taliban and the National Unity Government will result in either an extension of the US military presence in Afghanistan, or the outbreak of a new civil war like that in the early 1990s.

The talks have also revealed certain specific characteristics relating to the armed opposition in today’s Afghanistan. In general, that opposition is made up of the Taliban. But there are other forces operating in the country, including militants from Al-Qaeda, DAESH, Uighur separatists from the Xinjiang region of China, militants from the Pakistani Taliban, and various armed groups from the Central Asian countries and the Caucasus. The Afghan Taliban, which dominates the armed opposition, has been able to persuade the Al-Qaeda militants to pledge their loyalty to the Taliban’s leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada. As a result, in recent years the Taliban has been reinforced by Al-Qaeda militants serving in its ranks. This helps to explain how the Taliban is now able to control 60% of the country’s territory and carry out almost daily attacks on Afghan security forces and government officials.

As for DAESH, its leaders remain subordinate to their Emir and refuse to accept the leadership of Hibatullah Akhundzada, which results in a split within the armed opposition in Afghanistan.

The fourth party in the dialogue process is Pakistan. As one of the organisers of the talks between the USA and the Taliban, Pakistan has received assurances from the Afghan Taliban that, in the future, the latter will cut its links with Pakistani Taliban militants based in Afghanistan, insurgents from the Pakistani province of Balochistan and the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, and that it will refrain from acting against Pakistan’s interests.

The talks between the USA and the Taliban demonstrate that the two parties are serious about bringing an end to the internecine conflict in Afghanistan. But it is also evident that all the parties are determined to stick to their initial positions. The parties exchange spoken declarations, but they show no will to take any constructive steps or even move towards a compromise.

Natalia Zamarayeva, Ph.D (History), is a Senior Research Fellow, Pakistan section, Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

February 11, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

Daesh Militants Transfered From Pakistan to Tajikistan – Russian Official

Sputnik – January 28, 2019

Unidentified helicopters transported a large number of Daesh terrorists from Pakistan to the border with Tajikistan, close to Russia’s southern borders, Russian Deputy Interior Minister Igor Zubov said on Monday. Pakistan and Tajikistan are separated by Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor region.

According to the Russian minister, there may be some preparations for a provocation that may affect Russia.

“Daesh fighters in massive quantities were transported from Pakistani territory to the border with Tajikistan. In that area, perhaps, the militants might stage massive provocations that would result in huge amounts of refugees fleeing the territory. This would have an impact on Russia,” Zubov said.

This comes after earlier Col. Gen. Andrey Novikov, the head of the Commonwealth of Independent States Anti-Terrorism Centre, stated that Daesh terrorists were being transported to Afghanistan and Pakistan after facing defeat in Syria and Iraq.

Last year, the Syrian Arab News Agency reported that US helicopters evacuated Daesh leaders from several areas across the Syrian province of Deir ez-Zor to the country’s northeast. The US-led coalition, in turn, denied all accusations.

See also:

Is There a ‘Secret US Hand’ Supporting Daesh in Afghanistan?

January 28, 2019 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Pakistan wriggles out of IMF clutches

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | January 13, 2019

The visit by Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid A Al-Falih on Saturday to Gwadar to inspect the site allocated for a multibillion oil refinery in the port city suggest that Riyadh and Islamabad are giving the final touch to reaching agreement for a Saudi Aramco Oil Refinery in Pakistan. Reports say that Saudi Arabia will be investing $10 billion in the proposed project.

Without doubt, this is a major development in the region. The Saudi-Pakistan relationship, which has been traditionally close and fraternal, is moving on to a new level of dynamism. The Saudi investment decision can be taken as signifying a vote of confidence in the Pakistani economy as well as in Prime Minister Imran Khan’s leadership. It comes on top of the $6 billion package that Saudi Arabia had pledged last year (which included help to finance crude imports) to help Pakistan tide over the current economic difficulties.

The visiting Saudi minister Khalid al-Falih told reporters in Gwadar, “Saudi Arabia wants to make Pakistan’s economic development stable through establishing an oil refinery and partnership with Pakistan in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor.” This remark highlights that Saudi Arabia is openly linking up with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). China has welcomed this development, but countries that oppose the CPEC such as the US and India will feel disappointed.

From the Indian perspective, the Saudi investment in Gwadar becomes a game changer for the port city, which was struggling to gain habitation and a name. Inevitably, comparisons will be drawn with Chabahar. India has an added reason to feel worried that its Ratnagiri Refinery project, which has been described as the “world’s largest refinery-cum-petrochemical project” is spluttering due to the agitation by farmers against land acquisition. The Saudi Aramco was considering an investment in the project on the same scale as in Gwadar. Will Gwadar get precedence over Ratnagiri in the Saudi priorities? That should be the question worrying India.

The Saudi energy minister disclosed that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will be visiting Pakistan in February and the agreement on the Gwadar project is expected to be signed at that time. Of course, it signifies that Saudi Arabia is prioritizing the relations with Pakistan. The fact remains that Saudi Arabia has come under immense pressure of isolation following the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.

There is much uncertainty about the dependability of the US as an ally and security provider. Riyadh is diversifying its external relations and a pivot to Asia is under way. Suffice to say, under the circumstances, a China-Pakistan-Saudi axis should not look too far-fetched. There is also some history behind it.

To be sure, Iran will be watching the surge in Saudi-Pakistani alliance with growing trepidation. The Saudi presence in Pakistan’s border region with Iran (such as Gwadar) has security implications for Tehran. Iran has been facing cross-border terrorism.

Tehran cannot but take note that Imran Khan has not shown any interest in reciprocating the overtures it made when he came to power. He is yet to visit Iran. The expectation in Tehran was that Imran Khan who often voiced the political idiom of justice and resistance as an opposition leader would have empathy with Iran. But, as it happened, Imran Khan appears to be far more comfortable as prime minister with the crown princes of Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Simply put, Tehran misjudged Imran Khan. But Imran Khan’s priorities today are quite understandable. He wants the Gulf Sheikhs to make big investments in the Pakistani economy. He senses that left-wing slogans have served their purpose when he was seeking power but they become liabilities today. Why should he put Pakistan as a torchbearer of resistance politics? In his interview with WaPo, he didn’t mince words in implying that he intended to follow neo-liberal economic policies.

Besides, in strategic terms, one important fallout of the Saudi bailout of Pakistani economy is that there may be no more need for Islamabad to approach the International Monetary Fund for a rescue package. The earlier indication was that Pakistan might seek a $8 billion bailout package. From present indications, the help from Saudi Arabia, China and the UAE will enable Pakistan to avoid seeking IMF assistance. (The UAE and Pakistan formalized a $6.2 billion bailout package last week in Islamabad.)

The US had openly threatened that any IMF bailout would be conditional on a close scrutiny of the CPEC projects. Ironically, it proved counterproductive. As a result, in geopolitical terms, Washington’s capacity to leverage Pakistani policies is significantly diminishing. The impact will be most keenly felt in Afghanistan.

January 13, 2019 Posted by | Economics | , , , , , | 2 Comments

India baits US while Pakistan tells Trump, ‘There’s nothing like free lunch’

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

Breaking a prolonged period of several months, the Pakistani allegation of Indian involvement in terrorist attacks has surged. This appears during the first detailed media briefing by the Pakistani authorities in Karachi on January 13 on the results of the investigation over the terrorist strike on the Chinese consulate in the city last November.

Pakistan has blamed the Balochistan Liberation Army for staging the terrorist attack. Graphic details have been given claiming that the attack was “planned in Afghanistan” from where the Balochi terrorists travelled to Karachi.

India’s alleged role has been described variously in the Pakistani press as rendering “assistance” to the terrorists and “funding” them. One report mentions that the attack was “carried out with the assistance of Indian intelligence agency.” Indeed, immediately after the attack on November, a Pakistani security official had suggested that India “orchestrated” it. An AP report at that time had mentioned that Pakistan was investigating whether the Baluch separatist commander Aslam Achhu, who masterminded the attack, was in India.

The Pakistani assessment is that the Karachi attack was well planned over months and intended to cause rift in the China-Pakistan ties as well as to undermine the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) by highlighting the volatility of the city. It stands to reason that Pakistan would have shared with the Chinese any details in this regard.

The salience that must be noted here is that Pakistan has not finger-pointed at Kabul authorities directly or implicitly. In the past, the Pakistani allegation used to be that Indian and Afghan agencies collaborated in such enterprises.

Some other things stand out as well. The timing of the Pakistani disclosure is significant. First and foremost, it comes amidst signs of US-Taliban talks intensifying. A fourth round was expected to take place on Wednesday, but was called off by the Taliban on grounds of “agenda disagreement” with the Americans, in a clear snub to the US special representative Zalmay Khalilzad. Elsewhere, Taliban spokesman also told Reuters, “We (Taliban) have the feeling that Zalmay Khalilzad doesn’t have enough power to make important decisions.” Evidently, there is a fly in the ointment.

Interestingly, a former Pakistani diplomat Zamir Akram, who is an old India hand, wrote yesterday counseling that Pakistan should not harbor “unrealistic expectations” out of the Trump administration, as there may not be a “real change in policy towards Pakistan.” To quote Akram, “Washington continues to view relations with Islamabad through the prism of Afghanistan and not on the basis of relations with Pakistan in and of itself.”

He added, “Our Prime Minister should also resist the temptation, which his predecessors did not, of accepting a meeting with the American President as a “reward” in itself — a meeting devoid of any substantive outcome for Pakistan. This has been a usual American tactic mainly reserved for light-weight leaders who can be fobbed off with an Oval office photo-opportunity. Any meeting with Trump must lead to concrete results otherwise it would not be worth the effort.”

Amongst other things, Akram voiced disquiet that Washington is disrupting the India-Pakistan strategic parity in favor of India, and that “Pakistan’s relations with China and CPEC in particular are emerging as contentious issues in Pakistan-US relations.” He said that in an environment of “a convergence in US-India relations but a growing divergence in the Islamabad-Washington equation,” Pakistan must diversify its foreign relations, and in particular, it “must further strengthen strategic partnership with China for which successful implementation of CPEC, despite American and Indian opposition, must be ensured.”

Zamir concluded by underscoring that a political settlement in Afghanistan should provide for an outcome that served Pakistan’s interests “in terms of ending Indian use of Afghan territory to promote terrorism in Pakistan, recognition of Pakistan’s security interests in Afghanistan, return of Afghan refugees and removal of US sanctions. We have the leverage to attain this, given the American reliance on Pakistan, not just for the dialogue with the Taliban but also due to the air and ground access we provide to the US for its presence in Afghanistan.” (Express Tribune )

Plainly put, strategic (nuclear) parity in South Asia, restrictions on Indian activities in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s security interests in Afghanistan, return of Afghan refugees and removal of US sanctions on Pakistan – they are still on the table. If Trump’s game plan is to swing a settlement riveted on Pakistani acquiescence with a reduced US military presence in Afghanistan (enabling him also to flaunt “troop withdrawal” by election year 2020) by pandering to PM Imran Khan’s vanities, it may not work.

Given India’s hardline policies toward Pakistan, it is improbable that Islamabad will compromise on its agenda to purge the Indian presence in Afghanistan. Therefore, the media disclosure on the terrorist attack in Karachi at this juncture must be taken as a signal to Washington as much as to Delhi. Most certainly, it coincides with the US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad’s visit to Delhi, where he enjoys a fabulous reputation for being an inveterate anti-Pakistani Afghan-American.

Unsurprisingly, chaffing under the Taliban’s snub, Khalilzad was assured of a warm reception in Delhi. The press reports based on briefings suggest that Indian officials tore into Pakistan warning the Trump administration about Islamabad’s machinations. Clearly, Delhi sized up that it has in Khalilzad  a most receptive audience.

Alongside, there has also been a sudden burst of enthusiasm to inject some verve into the US-Indian ties, which have been languishing during recent years. It is entirely conceivable that India  may place some orders for weaponry from American vendors, which would of course please Trump immensely.

To be sure, Trump’s travails in withdrawing US troops from Syria may turn out to be a picnic in comparison with what is in store in Afghanistan.

January 12, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Modi-Trump bromance ends on sour note

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | January 3, 2019

The highly disparaging remarks by the US President Donald Trump on Wednesday regarding Prime Minister Narendra Modi and India’s role in Afghanistan come as a shocking revelation. Trump was talking to the press following his first cabinet meeting of 2019 at the White House in Washington. No Indian PM has been reduced to look silly like this by any American president in history.

Trump’s remarks came in the course of his rambling speech regarding the failure of the war in Afghanistan. He spoke every bit as an embittered man who realizes that the war has been lost. Part of the reason why he summarily put Modi on the mat could have been that Trump also realizes the great urgency of extracting Pakistan’s cooperation in the Afghan endgame. Trump’s thesis was that foreign leaders take America for a ride.

In this vein, Trump mocked Modi for funding a library in Afghanistan under Indian aid and bragging about it repeatedly in private conversations. (Trump apparently mistook for a library the Indian-built parliament building in Kabul, which Modi inaugurated in a grand ceremony on Christmas Day in 2015.) Anyway, Trump claimed that Modi was “constantly telling me he built a library in Afghanistan.” He then rubbished Modi’s vanity, saying, “You know what that is? That’s like five hours of what we spend (in Afghanistan.) And we’re supposed to say (to Modi), ‘Oh, thank you for the library’. I don’t know who’s using it in Afghanistan.”

This is the first time the US belittled the Indian assistance to Afghanistan, which is estimated to be close to 2 billion dollars. The American mantra has been that India was rendering invaluable help to Afghanistan. But now that the war is about to end, we are probably getting a candid version of what the Americans really thought of the quality of the Indian aid.

Elsewhere, Trump said that India had a free ride in Afghanistan – like Russia and the Gulf states – because the US was fighting their war against terrorist groups. Therefore, Trump said in a snide remark that it is for India and Russia to do the fighting in Afghanistan. But he recalled that the Russians once tried to fight extremist groups in Afghanistan and failed and the Soviet Union went bankrupt as a result. The outcome was that the USSR “shrunk” into the Russian Federation.

Trump asked with indignation: “Why isn’t Russia, India, Pakistan there?” Why should America be there, “which is 6000 miles away?” He bemoaned that the Pentagon “didn’t do a good job” in Afghanistan. Referring to the former Defence Secretary James Mattis, he noted, “I am not happy with what he did in Afghanistan.” Trump alleged that he provided for a generous budget for the Pentagon but the result in Afghanistan is “not too good.”

Interestingly, Trump hinted that Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is delivering in a big way to help the US end the war. Trump disclosed, “I look forward to meeting the folks from the new leadership in Pakistan. We will be doing that in not-too-distant future.”

Clearly, Trump has taken note of the sea change in the Pakistani stance lately on Afghanistan after Imran Khan came to power, especially Imran Khan’s changed position that in some form – maybe, in some reduced form – the US military presence should continue in Afghanistan for a conceivable future. Simply put, the US and Pakistan are re-bonding again as ‘natural allies’ over Afghanistan.

Trump feels gratified that Pakistan has delivered the Taliban, finally, to the negotiating table. No doubt, the revival of the US-Saudi Arabia-UAE-Pakistan caucus to finesse the Taliban’s role in the future Afghan political scenario meets with Washington’s requirement. For Trump, the priority is that the US must somehow end the 17-year old war in Afghanistan before his campaign gets under way for the presidential election in the US next year.

Arguably, Trump’s acerbic remarks about Modi contained a subtle warning against any Indian attempt to be a ‘spoiler’ in the emergent scenario. On the other hand, Imran Khan becomes an irreplaceable partner for Trump. We may expect a state visit – or at least an official visit – by Imran Khan to the US in the near future.

On the geopolitical plane, things are falling in place in a familiar pattern. The US seeks transactional relationships and in the immediate future in the South Asian region Pakistan is of greater use. Evidently, Indian analysts have been daydreaming about the “Quad” and what not.

Trump’s fascination for India has been all about Modi’s utility for the ‘America First’ project. But Trump probably sees Modi now as a brunt-out case. Indeed, the Western press increasingly casts doubts on Modi’s chances of returning to power in the 2019 poll. (See a commentary by the Voice of America titled India’s Modi Facing Tough 2019 Election Year)

January 3, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

US Budgetary Costs of the Post-9/11 Wars: $5.9 Trillion Spent and Obligated

Through FY2019

By Prof. Neta C. Crawford | Watson Institute, Brown University | November 14, 2018

The United States has appropriated and is obligated to spend an estimated $5.9 trillion (in current dollars) on the war on terror through Fiscal Year 2019, including direct war and war-related spending and obligations for future spending on post-9/11 war veterans (see Table 1).

This number differs substantially from the Pentagon’s estimates of the costs of the post-9/11 wars because it includes not only war appropriations made to the Department of Defense – spending in the war zones of Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and in other places the government designates as sites of “overseas contingency operations,” – but also includes spending across the federal government that is a consequence of these wars. Specifically, this is war-related spending by the Department of State, past and obligated spending for war veterans’ care, interest on the debt incurred to pay for the wars, and the prevention of and response to terrorism by the Department of Homeland Security.

If the US continues on its current path, war spending will continue to grow. The Pentagon currently projects $80 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) spending through FY2023. Even if the wars are ended by 2023, the US would still be on track to spend an additional $808 billion (see Table 2) to total at least $6.7 trillion, not including future interest costs. Moreover, the costs of war will likely be greater than this because, unless the US immediately ends its deployments, the number of veterans associated with the post-9/11 wars will also grow. Veterans benefits and disability spending, and the cost of interest on borrowing to pay for the wars, will comprise an increasingly large share of the costs of the US post-9/11 wars.

Table 1, below, summarizes the direct war costs – the OCO budget – and war-related costs through FY2019. These include war-related increases in overall military spending, care for veterans, Homeland Security spending, and interest payments on borrowing for the wars. Including the other areas of war-related spending, the estimate for total US war-related spending allocated through FY2019 is $4.9 trillion.[3] But because the US is contractually and morally obligated to pay for the care of the post-9/11 veterans through their lifetimes, it is prudent to include the costs of care for existing post-9/11 veterans through the next several decades. This means that the US has spent or is obligated to spend $5.9 trillion in current dollars through FY2019.[4] Table 1 represents this bottom-line breakdown for spent and obligated costs.

Table 1. Summary of War Related Spending, in Billions of Current Dollars, Rounded to the Nearest Billion, FY2001- FY2019[5]

Figure 1. US Costs of War: $5.9 Trillions of Current Dollars Spent and Obligated, through FY2019[10]

Further, the US military has no plans to end the post-9/11 wars in this fiscal year or the next. Rather, as the inclusion of future years spending estimates in the Pentagon’s budget indicates, the DOD anticipates military operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Syria necessitating funding through at least FY2023. Thus, including anticipated OCO and other war-related spending, and the fact that the post-9/11 veterans will require care for the next several decades, I estimate that through FY2023, the US will spend and take on obligations to spend more than $6.7 trillion.

To read the full PDF report by Professor Neta C. Crawford, click here.

November 17, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , , , | 1 Comment

Iran Ready to Mount Coordinated Anti-Terrorism Operation on Pakistani Soil

Al-Manar | November 17, 2018

Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli highlighted the insecurity of borders between the Islamic Republic and Pakistan, and voiced Tehran’s readiness to carry out counterterrorism operations on Pakistani soil.

Rahmani Fazli remarks were during a press conference on Saturday, as part of efforts to free 14 abducted borders guards by Takfiri terrorists.

The Iranian minister said following the efforts by various security and diplomatic organizations, the Foreign Ministry in particular, the terrorists handed over five of the 14 Iranian border guards to the Pakistani side.

“We are pursuing (the issue) so that all of the beloved ones taken hostage by the criminals, would return to us,” he said.

Iran expects that the Pakistani government to boost security cooperation along the common borders, the minister stressed.

If Pakistan cannot act against the terrorists for any reason, Iran is ready to carry out operations on Pakistani soil, where the terrorists are present, with Islamabad’s permission, Rahmani Fazli added.

Speaking to reporters at a press conference in the northern city of Qazvin on Thursday, IRGC Commander Major General Jafari also said the abducted border guards will be freed but it will take time.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Commander of the IRGC Ground Force Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour recently traveled to Pakistan as part of efforts to secure their release.

Pakistani-based terrorists kidnapped 14 Iranian forces at a border post in Mirjaveh region in Sistan and Balouchestan province on October 15.

November 17, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 1 Comment

A New Body On Nuclear Disarmament?

By Vladimir KOZIN – Oriental Review – 15/11/2018

In October 2018, Senior Adjunct Fellow of the Federation of American Scientists and former safeguards inspector with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Thomas Shea, unveiled his book Verifying Nuclear Disarmament at the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation.

A key element of his publication is the establishment of a new international control mechanism for the phased and complete elimination of nuclear weapons by all nuclear powers, which will simultaneously monitor any attempts to re-create such weapons of mass destruction again.

In his book, the 78-year-old author, who began his military career on a US aircraft carrier fitting carrier-based aircraft with nuclear bombs, builds on the provisions of the international Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) adopted in July 2017 by suggesting that a special implementing body be set up, which he calls the International Nuclear Disarmament Agency (INDA), to complement the IAEA should the treaty ever enter into force.

According to the US expert, the INDA would be a key body for controlling the entire process of global nuclear disarmament, it would oversee the dismantling of nuclear warheads and the equipment needed to make them at nuclear weapons facilities, and it would also ensure that nuclear weapons are never made again. The agency would operate in accordance with the principles set out in the text of the TPNW.

Thomas Shea has worked out the organisational structure of the INDA and sets this out in his book, along with the principles of its interaction with nuclear states and the IAEA.

The American researcher believes that the INDA should be headed by a Nuclear Disarmament Council made up of 24 members (one from each country party to the TPNW). The council would have nine permanent committees that would control the process of eliminating nuclear weapons, safeguard weapon-sensitive information, ensure the safety and security of nuclear weapons, and carry out inspections to verify nuclear disarmament agreements, so perform certain supranational functions, in other words. The council would also oversee the day-to-day activities of the new disarmament control agency and help implement all the provisions of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The INDA’s research work will be provided by its staffed Research Institute and its Center for Research and Development related to the verification of nuclear disarmament.

The book’s author has developed key principles for preventing rearmament following the total elimination of nuclear weapons from the world’s arsenals, including the introduction of a strict inspection regime and the international control of fissile material that could be used to make nuclear warheads. He also suggests converting highly enriched uranium to low-enriched uranium as soon as possible, which could then only be used in nuclear power plants.

The American researcher proposes starting the nuclear disarmament process by determining for each nuclear state the minimum amount of fissile material that could be used to made nuclear warheads. He believes it would then be possible to embark on a reciprocal exchange of information about operationally deployed nuclear warheads, which should be eliminated first, and then information about non-deployed warheads, which should be disposed of second. The next step in the nuclear disarmament process would be an agreement to reduce the amount of fissile material intended for nuclear weapons and place all remaining stocks of fissile material under special international control to rule out future rearmament.

Thomas Shea suggests that nuclear states take ten confidence-building nuclear disarmament measures. In particular, he believes that an important measure to increase the level of trust between nuclear states in the nuclear missile sphere would be their mutual commitment not to be the first to use nuclear weapons against each other or not to use them at all, whether first, second, or third, and he also calls for the signing of bilateral agreements on the gradual reduction of nuclear arsenals.

Referring to the Nuclear Posture Review approved by the Trump administration in February 2018, Thomas Shea criticises Russia, China and North Korea for modernising their nuclear weapons, while ignoring the fact that the nuclear arsenals of the West’s “nuclear troika” (Great Britain, the US and France) have been upgraded, as have those of the de facto nuclear powers – Israel, India and Pakistan.

Thomas Shea expresses support for the eventual entry into force of the international TPNW. This contradicts Washington’s official negative position on general nuclear disarmament, which is the most strongly opposed to the idea being implemented in comparison with the other nuclear-armed states. It is well known that the US has already started making plans to create a completely new strategic nuclear triad over the next seven to eight years, which America’s current military and political leaders envisage will exist right up to the 2080s.

The US researcher does not mention any deadlines in his book for reaching global nuclear zero, recognising that the process for complete nuclear disarmament could take many years due to existing disagreements on the issue between nuclear-armed states. He simply notes more generally that nuclear disarmament can only take place when every legal nuclear power – which is to say the “nuclear five” represented by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – and the four de facto nuclear powers that are not party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty – namely Israel, North Korea, India and Pakistan – understand that they will not be able to fully safeguard their security with nuclear weapons alone and so will switch to non-nuclear means to protect their defence interests. Thomas Shea believes that “disarmament won’t come quickly, quietly or cheaply”.

It is likely that the book will arouse some interest among those in the field as an example of the author’s development of a global mechanism for verifying complete nuclear disarmament at some point in the future. It is unlikely to become a catalyst for discussions on how to create a world completely free of nuclear weapons, however, given that the level of nuclear missile confrontation in the world has grown significantly thanks to the biggest nuclear power – America – while the threshold for using nuclear weapons has been lowered, particularly given the Pentagon’s readiness to use low-yield nuclear warheads, which is to say nuclear warheads with an explosive power of less than 5 kilotons.

The real situation in the world today shows that there are too many doctrinal and military-technical obstacles preventing the complete and irreversible elimination of all nuclear weapons. Their elimination is also made more complicated by the lack of a global consensus. There has also been no noticeable increase in the level of trust between nuclear-armed states, which all have different views on nuclear arms control and the doctrinal basis for their actual use.

It is important to bear in mind that only two-thirds of UN member states voted in favour of adopting the TPNW and it did not have the support of every nuclear power. The process of joining it is even worse: only a third of UN member states have actually signed it. The ratification process is moving along just as slowly. As of November 2018, it had been ratified by less than half of the 50 countries required.

The difficulties in implementing the TPNW are also reflected in the fact that a large proportion of the global community does not want to retain the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in its current form. This is clearly shown by the results of a UN vote. In October 2018, the First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly, which debates disarmament and international security, unfortunately voted against a draft resolution in support of the INF Treaty. Thirty-one countries voted in favour, 54 countries abstained, and 55 countries, including the US, Great Britain, Canada, France and Ukraine, voted against.

In other words, there is a lack of a global consensus on nuclear disarmament. In fact, it is possible that America’s targeted efforts to unilaterally withdraw from the INF Treaty and its refusal to extend START III could undermine the nuclear non-proliferation regime that has existed for many decades, as well as the entire international legal system for nuclear and conventional arms control that has been established with such difficulty over a long period of time.

November 15, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Death of CENTO’s Ghost: How the US Lost the Four Great Powers of Southwest Asia

By Martin SIEFF | Strategic Culture Foundation | 14.09.2018

CENTO – the Central Treaty Organization launched by President Dwight D. Eisenhower and his Secretary of State John Foster Dulles in 1958 is totally forgotten now. Even most regional experts on the Middle East and South Asia remember nothing about it. But it had a surprisingly long afterlife of 60 years, and its final, complete dissolution happening now before our eyes marks an epochal transformation of the Eurasian-Southwest Asia World Island.

CENTO – originally known as the Baghdad Pact or the Middle East Treaty Organization (METO) – was formed in 1955 by Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey and the United Kingdom with the blessing of the United States. The British saw it – farcically as it turned out – as an attempt to retain the phantom, craved after “influence” of their vanishing empire, which had left Pakistan in 1947.

METO did not last long. Within three years, the British –imposed and directed monarchy of the Hashemite dynasty in Baghdad had been literally wiped out in a bloody massacre. Iraq immediately pulled out of METO as fast as it could. METO was renamed CENTO with Eisenhower’s approval in 1958. One of the four “pillars” of the Anglo-American world order in South and Southwest Asia was down: Three to go.

Next to go was Iran in 1979. Its last Shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi was a megalomaniac egged on by American liberal social engineers who farcically imagined they could recreate President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal in Tehran. Millions of people were upended from their homes in enormous industrial and relocation programs while SAVAK, the Shah’s notorious secret police inflicted a reign of torture and terror.

The end result was the Islamic Revolution of 1979 that swept away the Shah and took Iran forever out of the Anglo-American orbit. After that, CENTO was finally officially dissolved. Eisenhower’s dream was dead and gone. But its ghost would endure for another 39 years.

Two down and two to go: For the next 40 years Pakistan and Turkey both remained strong, consistent and important US allies. After 2001, tensions between Washington and Islamabad inexorably grew as the US invasion of Afghanistan and its following endlessly bungled policies to build a so-called modern, democratic and centralized nation backfired in endless war.

This year, Pakistan joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), simultaneously with its next door neighbor India. Both nations turned their back on US claims of global hegemony and opted instead for a future of cooperation and security with Russia and China in the SCO.

That left only Turkey of the original METO or Baghdad Pact four still in the US orbit. Turkey remains a NATO member as it has been since 1955: The same year it also joined METO. However, since the failed Turkish military coup of June 2016, US –Turkish relations have plunged to their worst state ever. The US Congress seems intent on pouring ever more gasoline of the funeral pyre of the relationship.

Yet Turkey is vastly more important to US, European, NATO and Middle East security than all the tiny and ludicrous nation-building schemes Washington has pursued in the region over the past 25 years put together.

US policymakers – Republican and Democrat alike – remain obsessed with “creating” new “showcase,” supposedly “modern” and “democratic” states in Kurdistan, Kosovo, Bosnia, Macedonia, and Montenegro. They see the tiny three Baltic States, Georgia and even Ukraine with its neo-Nazi militias as shining examples that are supposed to inspire the rest of the world to follow the same Washington-directed paths.

None of these American visionary “geniuses” ever stops to remember why Iraq and then Iran opted out of METO/CENTO as fast as they possibly could. None of them stops to consider what the consequences of losing the friendship and trust of nuclear-armed Pakistan with its population of 200 million will be. None of them has ever raised publicly the issue of how totally untenable the reckless US forward naval and strategic deployment in the Black Sea will be if Turkey finally turns its back on the US and NATO.

CENTO is gone. The Baghdad Pact is dead. Now even CENTO’s ghost is dying: The four great buffer powers that the US and the UK looked upon to dominate the northern tier of Southwest and South Asia have abandoned Washington or are about to do so. The consequences of this development – born of a generation of stupid, heedless and selfish US policy bungles – will reshape the world.

September 14, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nasrallah: Resistance Axis triumphs, US’ & Israel’s Wars are Over

Speech by Hezbollah Secretary General Sayed Hassan Nasrallah on August 14, 2018, for the celebration of the twelfth anniversary of the 2006 victory.

Transcript:

The 2006 War and ISIS, two US Projects for Israel’s Sake

I seek refuge in God against the stoned devil.

In the Name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

Praise be to God, Lord of the Worlds, and prayers and salutations be upon our Master and Prophet, the Seal of the Prophets Muhammad, upon his pure and noble family, his chosen and faithful companions and all the Prophets and Messengers.

Peace be upon you all, and God’s mercy and His blessings.

O my brothers and sisters, I congratulate you on this day, the day of our historic and divine victory that God, in His benevolence, has granted you and Lebanon, the peoples of our region and the (Arab and Muslim) Community, thus registering a clear victory that upset many equations.

First, my thanks to God the Most High, who has protected us, supported us and granted us victory, pouring on us His Benefits that are impossible to count. And I thank and salute all those who have shaped this victory and took part (in one way or another) in shaping and achieving it, be they men of the Resistance, of the army and security forces, of the various factions of the Resistance, martyrs, wounded, prisoners and their families, refugees, steadfast and patient people and all those who made sacrifices, current and past Presidents, religious, political, military and security leaders, parties, forces, movements, committees, organizations, media, all the brave people of Lebanon and of the entire Arab and Islamic world, and all around the world. And special thanks are due to those who firmly stood by our side during this war, namely the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Syrian Arab Republic for their historical position alongside us.

O my brothers and sisters… I read the thanks quickly, and by the grace of God, the titles will be inclusive [of all those who contributed to the victory] so I’m not forced to mention (them one by one) in detail.

We celebrate this anniversary today (the victory of 2006), which is dear to us. It’s been twelve years since we won this victory, and we emphasize the importance of the celebration of this occasion. Similarly, God willing, we will celebrate in a few days in the city of Hermel the first anniversary of the Second Liberation (of Lebanon) –we must also hold the celebration of this date dear– against terrorism and takfiri groups.

And just as we were victorious during the July (2006) War, I wish to state that what happened for seven years and until now is a Great July (2006) War on the entire region, aiming to achieve the same objectives, the same project and the same hopes that the July 2006 War endeavoured to achieve. And as we came out of the July 2006 war victorious, we will come out soon, with God’s grace, victorious in this Great (World) War against our region and against the Resistance Axis in our region, to celebrate this divine, historical and major victory, which is close, very close, and will happen very soon.

We stress the importance of this celebration in order to emphasize the importance of the feat accomplished, to honor those who shaped this feat –the fighters, the martyrs, those who have made sacrifices and their leaders, the honorable, loyal and sincere people–, to root this victory in the feelings, culture and (collective) consciousness, to open the horizon and give new hopes against the waves of despair and humiliation, in the face of the inhibition of wills and appeals to surrender, to draw lessons and to consolidate our points of strength.

Today… As I speak today and I am going to make another speech in a few days (dedicated to the August 2017 Liberation from ISIS), I will discuss the 2006 war and the regional situation together as a single point, with a part I will complete in my next speech in Hermel, and I will say a few words about the internal situation (in Lebanon), and I also will complete them in my speech in Hermel.

If we go back to 2006, everyone remembers that the objectives of the war were to achieve the American project at the time, which was led by George Bush and his administration, after they occupied Afghanistan and Iraq and arrived at the borders of Syria and the Islamic Republic (of Iran). There was a major project in the region, for which targets were set. The 2006 war was fundamental in this project, and when it failed, the project collapsed with it.

Of course, afterwards, they made new studies and new careful calculations, and have engaged in a new plan. So there was a plan for the US hegemony project aiming to crown Israel as a fundamental, leading and axial element in the (project of a) New Middle East. The plan fell apart when we came out victorious in the 2006 war, when the Resistance in Gaza came out victorious, when Syria and Iran stood steadfast, and they then developed a new plan, the one against which we have fought in recent years and to this day.

Let us return to the 2006 plan. I am not doing a journalistic analysis, I am talking about things we have experienced and which were required from us. Remember, the purpose of this war was to end the Resistance once and for all, to annihilate it, either militarily or by forcing us to surrender, and that is what was required from us during the first days of the war: “Give up your weapons, all your weapons for the war to end.” But we were not only required to disarm. “Accept multinational forces…” Not international forces, not forces from the United Nations, but forces directly dependent on the US administration, like those who occupied Iraq in 2003. “Accept multinational forces at the Lebanese border with (occupied) Palestine, multinational forces at Lebanon’s border with Syria, and multinational forces at the airport and port of Beirut. In short, accept a new occupation that will be designated as the multinational forces, and hand us over both (Israeli soldiers) prisoners unconditionally.”

If Lebanon had fallen, it was planned to continue the project in the same year in Syria in 2006, and against the Palestinian Resistance in Gaza. But the (victorious) Resistance of Lebanon postponed the war against Gaza by two years. And it was planned to besiege Iran to isolate it and then strike it and put an end to this (Resistance) Axis, and forever. Such was (the plan) in 2006.

The (victorious) Resistance of Lebanon made these objectives and plan collapse, and pushed back the aspirations of the United States and Israel in our region for several years, taking us into a new battle, and caused very significant developments: it not only foiled the objectives (of the enemy), but it caused very important developments. It increased the power of the Resistance in Lebanon, Gaza, Palestine, Syria, Iran, Iraq, and (all) the region.

This victory took place, and no one (kindly) granted it to us: it is neither the Security Council, nor the UN, nor the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, nor the Arab League nor the Arab regimes that shaped this victory, but it was a blessing of God Almighty and Exalted and of the sacrifices of our people, of his patience and of his (victorious) Resistance, and thanks to the fact that he stayed on his land and came back to it (very promptly, as soon as the cease-fire was declared), thanks to the blood of its martyrs, the courage of its Mujahideen and fighters, and the steadfastness of the political position. We arrived at a new stage. I will not talk (any longer) about 2006, and I now turn to the current situation.

Well, today, during these “seven terrible years” (cf. Qur’an 12, 48), they brought the region into war, and even into several wars, all aimed at achieving the same previously stated objectives. And their axis is Israel, their goal is Israel and the strengthening and rooting of Israel (in the region) and his consecration as the (undisputed) master of this region. Therefore I will allow myself to speak (at length) about the situation in the region in relation to Israel. That is to say, where are they today, and where do we stand, even if it takes a bit of time, because we lead a battle for awareness, for will, for hope: today, these are the real titles of the battle waged in recent years, during those years and in the coming years.

So we will consider Lebanon in terms of the fight against Israel, as well as Syria, Palestine, Gaza and (all) the region. For all that happened aimed to serve Israel and its interests. I will not talk about the situation seven years ago (beginning of the war in Syria), but from where we are after those seven years, that also are seven years of steadfastness, strength, endurance, sacrifice and bloodshed (for our cause). Where is their project, where are they, and where are we, what are the position and situation of the Resistance Axis?

Hezbollah is stronger than Israel

Let’s start with Israel and Lebanon. How are things between Israel and Lebanon since 2006 to date, in 2018? It is clear that Israel is deterred (from any aggression against Lebanon). This Israel who, all his life, was attacking Lebanon for the most trivial reasons –its planes were bombing the south, the Bekaa, the North, Mount Lebanon, even the heart of the capital. You all remember the situation before 1982 and after 1982. But things have changed, and Israel does no such thing today. And it’s not because of good manners (allegedly acquired by) Israel, but thanks to the (deterrent) equation imposed by the Resistance.

Today, Israel, since 2007 to date, continually rebuilds and refounds itself in the light of its (2006) defeat and of the consequences of this defeat. They reviewed their combat doctrine, their military strategies and tactics –each time a new Chief of staff takes office, he writes a new strategy for the Israeli army–, their structure, the training of their forces, they have reconsidered their facilities and equipment and weapons, they continually hold maneuvers since 2006 and until yesterday, yesterday, there were maneuvers in the north.

Why? Why all these maneuvers, these reconsiderations, etc.? Because they consider that in Lebanon, there is a force that worries them (greatly), and that is to them, in their words, a “great threat” the “main threat”, and they are preparing to face it (at their best). (Throughout its history), when did we find Israel behaving this way towards Lebanon? (Never before 2006).

Israel hides itself behind the walls (it erected at the border) with Lebanon. They work constantly on their home front, and set out their fears at this level. Today, in every action –and I am not revealing secrets, even their media speak of it–, Israel considers (the risks of strikes against) the electricity, gas, oil, its gas facilities, the colonies, the depth, etc., because they know that in front of them, there is a serious, powerful and capable enemy. And I will conclude on this in a decisive sentence.

Israel carries out a (diligent) monitoring of the forces of the Resistance. Since 2006, they gather information about us, our weapons, the number of our fighters, our actions, our expertise. And when we went to Syria, they watched us (constantly), (worried) about our new acquisitions in experience and expertise in Syria. And as regards Lebanon (Hezbollah), it takes a very serious and very important place in their calculations.

Until we come to… Throughout its existence, Israel had never erected defenses in northern (occupied) Palestine. If defensive measures were required, it was in southern Lebanon (because Israel was always on the offensive). For the first time in the history of the Zionist entity, defensive lines are built in the north of Palestine to face the project of Liberation of Galilee (announced by Hezbollah). And Israel holds annual military exercises to prepare for that prospect. And field measures are taken and constantly reviewed and improved.

Until a few days ago, as part of the (recent) maneuvers in the north (of occupied Palestine), a senior officer in the Israeli army –this is reported by Israeli newspapers, not myself– said: “Hezbollah is the most powerful army in the Middle East after the Israeli army, because it has this, this, this and that.” Of course, I do not agree with him on this estimate. We do not consider that Hezbollah is the most powerful army in the Middle East after the Israeli army, but this statement expresses how the Israeli enemy sees this Resistance he wanted to eradicate during the July 2006 war.

Today, in 2018, this Resistance is, as I have always said and repeated every year, and allow me to repeat it again today, and the important thing is that the Israeli enemy knows very well that it is the strict, the undeniable truth: yes, the Resistance in Lebanon today, in its arms, its equipment, its capabilities, the number of its fighters, its cadres, its power, its expertise, its experiences, its faith, its determination, its courage and its will is stronger than ever since its launch in this region (in 1982)!

Certainly, Israel can threaten (us with war) every day. Remember, just weeks after the end of the July (2006) war, Israel threatened Lebanon with a vengeful war that was (supposedly) approaching fast. But you can count (the years of peace) with me: where is this war that Israel (continually) threatened us with and for which it asserted itself ready, having supposedly fixed all its shortcomings and faults, promising that it would shortly launch a new war against Lebanon? They threatened us (with war) in 2007, and 2007 has passed (peacefully). (Same thing in) 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, etc., until 2018. For 12 years, Israel has threatened us (permanently) to launch a war (imminently). But while they threaten to launch a war (against us), at the same time, they continue to evoke the fact that the Resistance becomes stronger (by the day) and that its (fire)power is increasing, until one of their officers said that Hezbollah is the most powerful army in the region after the Israeli military.

I want to tell him that we are not the most powerful army in the region after the Israeli military, leave this subject aside, because it is not precise, and we do not want to create problems (by competing) with the armies of the region. But let me say to that senior Israeli officer, on (the date of the commemoration of) the July (2006) War, that Hezbollah is stronger than the Israeli army! The Resistance in Lebanon is stronger than the Israeli army!

For either in 2000 or in 2006, it was never a question of manpower, equipment, quantity, capabilities, weapons or rockets / missiles. Today we have more faith in the righteousness of our cause than you have in your false, usurping cause. Today we are more willing to sacrifice than your miserable army and society, living in worry with many problems and in many files. Today we have more faith and confidence than ever in our God, our Creator and He who granted us victory, ever since God the Almighty and Majestic created us. Today we have more faith, trust and confidence in His Promise of victory addressed to the patients and sincere fighters. This sincerity, this faith and patience, we have them more than ever because of the accumulation of experiences.

When the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali  –peace be upon him–, said in one of his maxims: “War is (like) a debate, sometimes we have the advantage, and sometimes the enemy has the advantage, until God sees our sincerity, then He gives us victory and defeats our enemy.” He did not say “until God sees our weapons, our missiles / rockets, our equipment and our fighters”, but “until God sees our sincerity”. This sincerity, this authenticity and this faith, with which the people of the Resistance, the men of the Resistance and the families of the Resistance fought in 2006, today are bigger, stronger and more rooted (than ever).

And so your calculations are wrong (O Israel): we are not (necessarily) stronger than the other armies (of the region), but we are stronger than you. That’s all regarding Israel (and Lebanon).

Defeated in Syria, Israel begs for the withdrawal of Iran and Hezbollah

Secondly, Israel and Syria. (The United States and Israel) had planned to topple Syria in 2006 if the Resistance in Lebanon had fallen (in the July war). For if the Resistance had been defeated in 2006, they planned to bring multinational forces in Lebanon –because the Israeli army could not have stayed after the war–, US, French, English, Italian forces, etc. These forces were supposed to settle in Lebanon, close the border between Lebanon and Syria and besiege Syria to make it fall. This did not happen. The past seven years (of war) have therefore befallen in order to topple Syria in another way, namely the global war that was launched against Syria.

I will mention only Syria from Israel’s point of view. Israel is a full partner of the project of war against Syria since 2011, and fully participates in decision-making and in the US-Saudi-Western plan. On the ground, Israel has provided all the necessary support to the armed groups in southern Syria, all the logistical & medical support, weapons, food and information, up to occasional military interventions to help these groups. And we all remember, during the last seven years, the statements by Israeli officials who said that President Assad would fall within 3 or 5 months and that the interest of Israel was the fall of the regime. Today, there are people (analysts, journalists, officials) in the Gulf or elsewhere who philosophize about the fact that Israel would never have said anything like that, but anyone can refer to the archives of the past seven years, during which all the leaders of the usurper entity, without exception, expressed hopes that President Assad and the Syrian regime would fall, and that they’d see these (terrorist) groups replace them. The Syrian opposition, who visited the Zionist entity, brought pledges (of friendship), and regarded Israel as a friend, and Israel hoped to see Damascus become an allied or friendly capital instead of being an enemy capital. All this is common knowledge.

Israel had high hopes, during the last seven years of war against Syria, (betting) on ​​the fall of the regime and its replacement by a regime that would hasten towards resolution of disputes with Israel. Israel built hopes on the destruction of the Syrian Army in a way that it could not recover from in the future. Israel built hopes on the fact that the Syrian opposition, which according to their calculations was to seize power, would hasten to conclude (peace) agreements with it. Israel built hopes on the fact that those Syrians who self-identify as “opposition” would give up the Golan Heights (to Israel) in a future agreement. And Israel built hopes on the fact that the international community would give it the Golan and would recognize it as belonging to it because of the developments in Syria, whether the war continued or the regime was overthrown. But what is the situation today? Because we speak about the present.

Such were their hopes, and they worked (relentlessly) to achieve them for seven years, but today, those hopes have been scattered to the four winds. The world is not prepared to give them the Golan –maybe Trump would be willing to recognize (the Golan as Israel’s) but the international community and the world today are (humbly) standing in line to restore relations with Syria and the Syrian State. And for your information, in this line, security services worldwide outnumber diplomats, because today, the world is afraid of the return to their country of tens of thousands (of terrorists) that they have brought to Iraq and Syria from all the over world. What will they do there (attacks, etc.)? That’s why they need Syria and security cooperation with Syria. The world will not give the Golan to Israel nor recognize it as Israel’s, neither in a unilateral gesture, nor under pressure from Trump.

Israel built its hopes on the fall of the Syrian State, but the State maintained itself. Israel hoped the Syrian army would crumble, but yesterday, (Avigdor) Lieberman (Israeli Minister of War) himself said that –these are his words, not mine– it seems that the Syrian Army will return a larger and more powerful army than ever, and during these seven years, it tremendously gained in experience. And everyone knows that the battles fought in Syria (against terrorists) require great minds, unalterable wills and colossal capabilities.

Moreover, before the war, Israel feared the Syrian Army in Syria –there was also the Syrian people that they underestimate, but they are mistaken–, but after the war, Iran and Hezbollah are now added to them. Iran and Hezbollah (are now in Syria). This is a (stunning) failure for Israel. This poses a (huge) problem for Israel. And that is why today, Netanyahu, every day, absolutely every day, (when he speaks) about Syria, he now accepted as a fact the maintenance of the Syrian regime, leaders and even Army, but the battle he leads today, the political battle that he is currently leading like a beggar, is that Iran should not remain in Syria, and Hezbollah should not remain in Syria. And I saw that some journalists and analysts claimed that I was about to announce today the withdrawal of Hezbollah from Syria. Tell me, in what (illusory) world do you live? What (kind of nonsense) do you read or watch (on TV)? If someone gives you such information, then he is making fun of you. Such is the problem of Israel today. How is he going to get Iran out of Syria? How will he get Hezbollah out of Syria?

And see the degree of impudence. Israel, who is defeated Syria, seeks to impose its conditions and requirements! You lost. You are defeated. You failed. You lost your bet. Your hopes are scattered to the four winds. And you (think you can) impose your conditions? Of course, I can not say “my dear” to Israel (even ironically). You think you can impose your own terms? On whom do you think you can impose them? On the victorious Syrian leaders? On Iran, on Hezbollah, on the Resistance Axis?

So much for Syria regarding Israel. Now let us speak about Israel in (occupied) Palestine…. Because all this war was fought for Israel, and such is Israel’s situation today. They (miserably) failed here and there, they are (very) worried about this and that, this and that frightens them, they beg for such and such thing…

For example, to return to Lebanon, behind the scenes, you know that there is a lot of US pressure on the Lebanese State to settle the issue of the land and maritime boundary with Israel. But in whose interest? In the interest of Lebanon? No way. They want to settle the issue of the (Lebanese-Israeli) land and maritime boundary in the (exclusive) interest of Israel. And when we speak of the maritime boundary, it also means (the resources in) oil and gas. But that time is over. The time when Israel was imposing its conditions on Syria, the time when Israel was imposing its conditions in Lebanon (is over), even if Israel is (fully) supported by the United States and one hundred United States. This is not an impulsive or emotional statement. This is confirmed by the facts during decades of confrontation, of victorious Resistance, of sacrifice and blood spilled.

Trump and Bin Salman’s “Deal of the century” Failed

Now let us consider (the situation) in Gaza, in Palestine and primarily in Gaza. Despite the destructive war, despite the severe blockade… The United States, Israel and their allies expected Gaza to surrender, and that in exchange for food, medicine, electricity and (drinkable) water, Gaza gives them absolutely everything and accepts the “Deal of the century” and anything else required from them, and accepts any resolution (of the conflict), even at the expense of Palestinian rights. But Gaza has not submitted, has not surrendered and has not signed (the Deal), despite the fact that the whole world has forsook them. The whole world has abandoned them.

And more, Gaza reinstated and upheld the equation of the Resistance, responding to (missile) strikes with strikes, to blood with blood, to fire with fire This is why today, this Israel that strives to convince us that he is the strongest and is about to attack us so that we accept all that he wants to impose, is in a major deadlock even against Gaza. During the debates within the enemy government (in restricted committee), the Ministers are killing and insulting each other because they are lost in their choices against Gaza. Against Gaza the besieged, Gaza the starved, Gaza the abandoned by the whole world, Israel that you claim to be the most powerful army in the Middle East is completely disoriented. One of them said it is best to uphold a truce, even at the cost of concessions (easing of the blockade) to Gaza because we can not move towards war. Another retorted that if one moves towards a truce and grants concessions (to Gaza), maybe the same thing as with the Lebanon will happen, and Gaza will become stronger year after year. Yet another –of course they are all Ministers– exclaims that they must launch a destructive war against Gaza, but someone asks if he considered the retaliation (of the Resistance in Gaza) and recalled that wars were conducted without achieving any results. Yet another promotes the invasion of Gaza and a new occupation, and someone reminds him that they have left Gaza recently. Israel is completely lost, confused and deadlocked. And this is against Gaza. Why? Because Gaza resists, as one man, despite the existing disputes (between Palestinian factions). Gaza makes sacrifices every day, especially every Friday. All this is happening against Gaza.

And it confirms the limits of the power of Israel. Even if they have an (over-armed) military and the most powerful Air force in the region, it does not mean that Israel is almighty. It does not mean that he can do whatever he wants. It does not mean that we are nothing, that we are zero, that they can erase us, that we are out of the equation. Never. Things are not so.

As for Israel, and the Deal of the century, with the arrival in power of Trump, –in this topic, allow me to express myself with even more frankness than I usually do–, with the arrival of Trump in power in the United States, and of Mohammad Bin Salman in power in Saudi Arabia, and with the assumption that the region was heading towards collapse and that the Resistance Axis was going to be eradicated, they concocted the odious Deal of the century, that we all know today, and the best that Israel could ever dream of is that this agreement is realized. For it gives them Al-Quds (Jerusalem) in a final and everlasting way, irrespective of what is located above or below ground, what is east or what is west, they take all Al-Quds, the refugee issue is erased, the existence of Israel in the region is normalized (by relations with all Arab countries) and the Palestinians get a State which is not a State, within a small and narrow extent of territory.

For two years, some have been trying to impose on the peoples and governments of our region the idea that the Deal of the century is a Decree impossible to escape, and that we cannot but accept it. But who says that? Every time they were making agreements and were developing catastrophic solutions (for Palestine), they came to the peoples of the region, to the Resistance movements and governments in the region, stating that this was an inevitable Decree that nobody could prevent. But the truth is quite different.

Today, in light of the developments that have occurred so far… Some believe –and this is an opinion that matters, issued by leading experts and political and strategic thinkers– that the deal of the century is over, that it failed, and that we are just waiting for this to be announced. For my part, I will not say that, because the issue needs further reflection, study and time, but I can tell you that this Deal of the century that Trump wants to impose with all his arrogant strength, and in which he wants to swing a big country in the region that is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, along with other countries, this agreement faces real problems. And there’s a very good chance, if we insist on the equations (of Resistance) which we always talk about, that this agreement will collapse, now more than ever. What are the proofs of this? Why (is it that I can say that)?

First, the unanimous rejection of the Palestinian people towards the Deal of the century. Throughout Palestine, there is no faction, authority, power or popular Resistance, no Palestinian or Palestinian side that supports this agreement. That’s the first point. There is no Palestinian leader, man or representative of the Palestinian people that would agree to sign an agreement giving Al-Quds (Jerusalem) to Israel and making it the eternal capital of Israel. No way. And they (all) announced that. An agreement without Palestinian signature (has no value). Even if they were to impose it by force. If Palestine does not sign, the agreement can not function. And it (really) surprised them. They may have counted on the fact that by putting pressure on the Palestinians, terrorizing them and starving them, or by promising them money or some projects (port, airport…), some Palestinian would come sign such a Deal. (But they were bitterly disappointed).

Second, the fact that the Resistance Axis stood steadfast, that Iran resisted, the victory of Iraq against ISIS crazies & Wahhabi movements funded by the United States and Saudi Arabia, the victory of Syria, the fact that Yemen stood firm, all this extended Axis (from Palestine to Iran), not to mention the developments in Lebanon (victory of the Hezbollah alliance in the elections). All this has its influence. You were getting ready to impose an agreement on the assumption that there would be no more Resistance, Resistance Axis or countries of the Resistance. This is what you imagined a few years ago. But now, the facts are very different from your expectations.

And third, the crisis in the United States themselves, who figure they can come and impose the Deal of the century on the peoples and governments of the region, while they have (serious) problems even with their allies and friends, whether Europe or Turkey –you follow the evolution of this crisis every day–, not to mention Russia and China.

Also, among the most important things that push the Deal of the century to fail, and here I ask you to be pay attention, (I have to mention) the decline of the regional Axis led by Saudi Arabia in the region. This Axis is pushed back and it weakens. What is the proof of that? I speak only of (undeniable) facts, they are accessible, and field data reported by the media. Why?

First, this regional Axis failed completely in Syria, it’s over. It’s (game) over for them. Yes, there is still Idlib, and if it is not over by then, I will speak about it on Sunday (August 26) in Hermel. This Axis has failed in Iraq. This Axis has failed to push the world to besiege Iran and to impose (international) sanctions on Iran with Trump. And this Axis has failed in its war in Yemen.

Today, let me tell you, from my Dahiyeh (southern suburb of Beirut) in Lebanon, to the innocent victims (Dahyan) of Sa’dah, Yemen. O dear, noble and worthy people, especially the families of children who were martyred, know with certainty that those who killed you are the same as those who killed our children in Dahiyeh and in Qana. Those who have shed the blood of your wives and children are the same as those who have shed our blood in Lebanon. The same weapons, the same Axis, the same countries, the same determination, the same decision, and the same behavior. And just as the blood of our children and women triumphed in Lebanon, the blood of your children and wives will triumph in Yemen. Because behind this blood stand truth and justice, as well as (real) men and (authentic) leaders who will not forgive these criminals and bloodthirsty murderers, those who behead all feelings, all morality and all honor. When this Axis arrives at this level of atrocious massacres in Yemen, this is a clear message that militarily, it has failed, that the military option is over. They lost the war, but they want to avenge themselves on the people who inflicted this defeat on them.

And internal crises in Saudi Arabia, the crisis in the Gulf and within the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)… The open crisis is with Qatar, but there are also hidden crises within the OIC. (And see the situation) with Canada, because of a minor problem. Now, whether it is because of this problem or in order to please Trump (who is in conflict with Canada), this question should be studied more closely (to respond). Canada has merely raised the issue of human rights and political prisoners with Saudi Arabia, and it caused (an indignant reaction like) Judgment Day in Saudi Arabia, which has denounced interference in its internal affairs, recalled its ambassador and expelled Canada’s, ended the scholarships… They geared up for confrontation and turned everything upside down because of this (alleged) Canada interference in Saudi internal affairs. And this while Saudi Arabia intervenes, fights and supports fighters in Syria and Iraq, is interfering in Iranian affairs, openly announces a war without mercy against Yemen and interferes in all the details of Lebanese affairs –and we all remember the day they arrested the constitutional Prime Minister of Lebanon, just like that. They allow themselves to interfere (wherever they want), but if anyone in the world dares to say: “Respect human rights and release those political prisoners”, they dump on him all the thunders of heaven. What is this mentality? Where are they going?

Anyway, they are experiencing (major) crises. Even with Turkey, they have a serious problem. Because Turkey is convinced that Saudi Arabia and the UAE were involved in the recent coup. Even with the Muslim world, they are in crisis. I give you an example, so that you understand what will happen to the Deal of the century.

In Malaysia, there was a head of government who was with the Saudi dynasty, an instrument of Saud, to whom they gave huge sums of money, and who worked for them for many years, but he was defeated in the elections, and is now behind bars, accused of corruption. And a new government is now in place, with a position (very) different vis-à-vis Saudi Arabia, the war against Yemen, sanctions against Iran, relations with Iran, the US administration, the Palestinian cause, the issue of Al-Quds (Jerusalem). Members of the Malaysian government have a (very) different position (towards all these issues).

And it is the same situation in Pakistan, the country where Saudi Arabia has also spent billions of dollars: the leader of the previous government, who was an instrument of Saudi Arabia, is behind bars, charged with corruption. And provided they do not foment a coup against them, a government will be formed and it will have a very different position (from that of Saudi Arabia) on the issue of Al-Quds, Palestine, Gaza, Yemen, Iran and the United States. This is the situation. This (Saudi-Israeli-American) Axis is (clearly) in decline. Let no one give us headaches with the daily lies of TV satellite channels from the Gulf. Lies, lies, lies, lies, lies, lies, until eventually people believe them. Such is the real regional situation. This Axis is declining.

The image of Saudi Arabia today in the Arab-Muslim world and elsewhere, for which it has spent billions of dollars, so that it is presented as the Kingdom of Good, today, in the consciousness of the world, what is it the Kingdom of? The Kingdom of those who sent these ISIS-crazies and takfiris, movements who destroyed the Arab and Muslim world, who perpetrated the most heinous crimes in the Arab and Muslim world and threaten the safety worldwide. What is their image with the war in Yemen? The siege, cholera, famine… And then they dare to say they provide (Yemen) with support on the issue of cholera, opening a corridor so that (the sick) can be treated. And up to their support for the Deal of the century, about which it is said that they would have backed off. Very good. Why are they backing off? Because they understood that (signing) this agreement would be a suicidal action.

Two more words about the regional situation. Israel and its internal crises: the corruption of the Prime Minister (Netanyahu), the disappearance of the historical leaders, persistent conflicts between parties, generalized anxiety, lack of confidence in the future. The atmosphere created by the media is only intended to reassure them and to keep them in the land they usurped. And also their Nation-State Law (institutionalizing the superiority of Jews). I do not have time to comment it in detail, but it will have a major impact on this entity.

In light of all these facts, we develop our position today. What happened in 2006 and what happened for 7 years aimed to allow the United States to seize this region, to root Israel permanently and to impose a resolution (of the Palestinian issue). Today, in 2018, I claim that this project has failed, or is about to fail definitively, with the Grace of God.

The Resistance Axis triumphs, US sanctions are an admission of impotence 

What is the lesson to draw from all that (I have just described)? Now I come to the conclusion. (The United States) have now only one way (to attack us). They know that wars lead to no result. Yesterday, His Eminence Imam (Khamenei), the Leader, may God preserve him, as he was speaking about the United States, said there would be no war. The US, Israel and this (Saudi) Axis know well that wars lead to no result, and they know that they will be defeated in any war they’d launch (against us), because they were defeated in the current wars and continue to be defeated.

The US-Saudi alliance, assisted by (Gulf and West) States, failed (miserably) in Yemen against the Yemeni people, who has modest resources, but great men and women. This alliance, which also failed in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, and has succeeded nowhere, knows that (any war will be disastrous). One of the benefits of the current situation is that wars are (now) left aside. Let no one threaten us with war, or believe he can scare us by evoking the prospect of wars. Anyway, if someone wants to start a war, he is most welcome. He will be well received. We are not afraid of war, it does not worry us. We are ready and we shall come out victorious with the Grace of God. It’s a certainty. Therefore it seems that the idea of ​​resorting to war was discarded. What do they want to do instead? Two things, and the first leads to the second.

The first is sanctions. Within the Resistance Axis, Iran is today the main force. Iran stood alongside the Iraqi people against ISIS, and in Iraq, ISIS was a Saudi-American project. Iran stood by Syria against all the takfiri movements who fought as part of a US-Saudi project. Iran stood by Lebanon during the 2006 war, before 2006 and after 2006. And Iran has stood by Palestine and Gaza and continues to stand by their side. And the position of Iran with regard to what is happening in Yemen and in the region is clear. (The Saudi-Israeli-American axis) therefore wants to target Iran. It is not possible for them to launch a war against Iran, so they imposed sanctions on Iran, in the hope that the Iranians are affected, the currency collapses, the social and economic situation becomes difficult, that disturbances are fomented inside Iran and that the Iranian people be pushed to overthrow the regime, so that the US can present themselves as the saviors and redeemers. And they think that if they pressure Iran, the whole (Resistance) Axis will weaken, (all) those who rely on Iran, count on it and are supported by it. Iran will get isolated, Hezbollah will be subjected to sanctions, as well as Syrian and Iraqi officials, something they have already done, etc., in order to besiege them financially, economically, etc. And this is supposed to weaken them and force them to back off and renounce (the Resistance).

And the second thing is to push to internal unrest in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere. In Lebanon, I say it between brackets, and I will return to it in a moment in my last section on the internal situation, you must know that everything that is written in social networks and in the media, all the requests addressed to Hezbollah (to act) in the sectors of economy, development, finances and services, those who make them do not all have good intentions. There are people who have different intentions. There are people who try to make us bear the responsibility for this situation of which we are not responsible, or if we are responsible of it, it is only to a certain extent, in order to stir up trouble in our popular base and in our society. Therefore, the last hope of Trump, Israel and all those who stand with them is sanctions.

And about sanctions, there is a great effort in the media, and the image (of the potential impact of sanctions) that is presented is not realistic. And on August 14, the day of commemoration of the victory, my duty is to clarify this point to you and to all who listen to me, wherever they are. This Iran to which Trump imposes economic sanctions, I say this on the basis of information and very precise data in my possession, I tell you that they build their dreams, their strategy and project on the fact that this will lead Iran to internal unrest and the overthrow of the regime. But these are illusions, chimeras that have no place in reality. I remind you that in 1979, when the Islamic Revolution led by Imam Khomeini, may God sanctify him, triumphed, the arrogant Western world said that the regime would collapse within 6 months, but it stood 6 months despite sanctions and the global blockade. Then they said it was going to collapse in a year, but it stood firm. Then they said two years, but it stood. Then they imposed the 8 years war (launched by Iraq). And the whole world was with Saddam Hussein, except Syria and a small number of countries. The whole world (was against Iran). Even those who are now our allies in Syria. Even the Soviet Union was with Saddam Hussein. Even China was with Saddam Hussein. The whole world was with Saddam Hussein. And Iran fought for 8 years, with its bare chest and its empty hands, but with faith and popular will. Iran is under sanctions since the triumph of the Islamic Revolution in 1979. True, Trump strengthens the sanctions, but sanctions date from 1979. And Iran has remained, and will soon celebrate the 40th anniversary of the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, despite all the conspiracies of the world and the (hostile) neighborhood (Saudi Arabia, Gulf).

I say this (with certainty) o my brothers and sisters, o those who profess and believe in the posture of justice and truth of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the equations of the region, in the fate of the region and its future, the Islamic Republic of Iran in our region today is stronger than ever, and it is even the first power. And they can not reduce its power or presence or hurt it. The regime of Iran is powerful, strong, determined and rooted, and protected by its people. Those who nourish these hopes (to end the regime) are dreaming awake and do not know the Iranian people. They have failed to know this people for 40 years and will not succeed in 100 years. And they do not know His Eminence Imam (Khamenei), the Leader, and they do not know the officials of the Islamic Republic. They are still ignorant, foolish and stupid.

And all their past actions have not led to the weakening of Iran; on the contrary, Iran has continued to strengthen. All the stupid actions of the US administration and their instruments in the region against Iran or the region led Iran to become increasingly powerful both inside and in the region. To prove it in detail would be long, but the evidence is clear for all.

And also in our case, regarding all our (Resistance) Axis in the region, I do not claim that the sanctions have no impact, of course they have an impact, we should not deny it. But sanctions will have no impact on our determination, our will and steadfastness, nor diminish our strength. Impose all the sanctions you want. Today, we possess in terms of strength –and they begin to wonder what will be the effect of sanctions on the financial situation of Hezbollah–, we possess in terms of strength, infrastructure, cadres, men and capacity which will allow us to overcome these difficulties, with the Grace of God.

In light of all that I have just presented, I conclude before saying a few words about the internal situation in Lebanon, to draw the lesson from all this. The lesson of all this, all the past, present, and what is to come, I want to say on this August 14, 2018, 12 years after the 2006 war: O Lebanese, O honorable people, O the noblest people, most worthy and most glorious of peoples, O peoples and masses of the Resistance, we were (already) stronger (than our enemies) and we became (even) stronger. Let no one try to make us believe that we are weak. Let no one imagine that if a crisis happens, or if we have a problem here or there, and some nonsense and insults appear (in the media and social networks), it may alter our soul, our determination, our will and our strategy.

These United States, whose projects and actions turned out to be failure after failure, I say to you today, (you) are unable to launch wars like the ones they have launched in the past (Iraq, Afghanistan…). And this Israel is unable to launch wars like the ones he has launched in the past (Lebanon, Gaza, Syria, Egypt…). And now, with our victory in Iraq, with our victory in Syria coming very soon, as the fighting will end in a few days, weeks or months (at most), with the heroic resistance of Yemen, with all the developments in our region, and with the leaders and people in Iran holding out, remaining firmly attached to their position, their foundations, their principles and their doctrine, we are now stronger than ever, and capable of shaping more victories and (positive) developments, with the help of God Almighty and the Exalted. […]

Full transcript (except for the last section about Lebanon’s internal affairs).

Translation: unz.com/sayedhasan

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September 5, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

US-Pakistani Relations Head South: Pentagon Cancels Military Aid to Islamabad

By Arkady SAVITSKY | Strategic Culture Foundation | 05.09.2018

The US Defense Department has made a final decision to cancel $300 million (the Coalition Support Funds) in aid to Pakistan. The official reason is Islamabad’s failure to take decisive action against the militants who are waging war in Afghanistan: the Haqqani network and the Afghan Taliban. The move is subject to approval by Congress. It was announced mere days before Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is due to visit Pakistan to meet Imran Khan, the country’s new prime minister. It also took place right on the heels of Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s visit to Pakistan, where the leadership expressed support for Iran and the nuclear deal the US abandoned. One is reminded of President Trump’s Aug. 7 tweet warning that “[a]nyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States.”

The announced decision is part of a broader suspension that was proclaimed at the beginning of the year. “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit,” President Trump tweeted on January 1, 2018. “They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!” The statement was followed by announcement that Secretary Jim Mattis was authorized to grant $300 million in CSF funds over the summer if he saw a change of attitude in Islamabad. He didn’t.

The US has started to suspend its training and educational programs for Pakistani officers. No funds have been provided for the coming academic year. US military institutions, including the National Defense University in Washington DC, the US Army’s War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, the US Naval War College, the Naval Staff College, and other courses they offered, including cybersecurity studies, eliminated the 66 slots they had reserved for cadets from Pakistan. It’s rather symbolic that Moscow and Islamabad signed an agreement on August 7 to train Pakistani military personnel in Russia.

With that country’s foreign-exchange reserves plummeting, PM Imran Khan will have to decide whether his government will seek a bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), where the United States controls more votes than any other member. The alternative would be to turn to China, Russia, and other friendly nations. After the victory of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party in the 2018 general elections, China agreed to grant a $2 billion loan to Islamabad. On July 30, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that any potential IMF bailout for Pakistan’s new government must not include funds to pay off the country’s Chinese lenders. Pakistan is pinning its hopes on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.

Russia and Pakistan marked the 70th anniversary of their diplomatic relations on May 1, 2018. That relationship has seen its ups and downs, but today it has risen to a new historic high.

Moscow and Islamabad see eye-to-eye on the prospects for ending the conflict in Afghanistan. Pakistan has endorsed the Russian-brokered peace talks that exclude the United States but include the Taliban. Pakistan strongly supports Russia’s Syria policy. Islamabad’s membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) opens up new prospects for cooperation. Russian President Vladimir Putin has put forward a proposal to create a more extensive Eurasian partnership based on the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), which would involve China, India, Pakistan, Iran, and those from the Community of Independent States (CIS) that are willing to join. Islamabad is also interested in signing a free-trade agreement with the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).

Pakistan has shown its interest in buying military hardware from Russia, has participated in Russian war games, and has also attended Army exhibitions. In September 2016, Russia and Pakistan held their first-ever joint military exercise. It’s been held yearly ever since. Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Javed Bajwa paid his first visit to Russia in April of this year. In late July, the two countries signed a naval cooperation agreement during the visit of Pakistan’s Vice Chief of the Naval Staff Vice Admiral Kaleem Shaukat to Russia. The Pakistani military plans to purchase Su-35 fighter jets and T-90 tanks from Russia.

Russia is involved in many economic projects, such as the Karachi Steel Mill and Gudhu Power Plants. In 2015, Russia and Pakistan signed a contract to build a 1,100-kilometer gas pipeline from Karachi to Lahore (the North-South pipeline) with a capacity of 12.4 billion cubic meters per annum — the largest economic deal ($1.7 billion) between the two countries since the USSR built the Pakistan Steel Mills in the 1970s. Delayed several times because of tariff disputes, it will be set in motion this year by a Russian company called RT – Global Resource.

Pakistan has already invited the Russian Federation to join the $1.16 billion Central Asia-South Asia power project or CASA-1000, which will allow for the export of surplus hydroelectricity from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to Pakistan and Afghanistan. In 2017, Pakistan’s government gave the go-ahead for the initiation of an agreement with Russia to construct a 600MW Natural Gas Combined Cycle (NGCC) power plant in Jamshoro, Sindh.

US-Pakistani relations are evidently at a low ebb but every coin has two sides. This is prompting Islamabad to diversify its foreign relationships. There are other partners with a lot to offer that could make that country stronger and much less vulnerable to outside pressure.

September 5, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

‘Incorrect’ US account of Khan-Pompeo talks upsets Pakistan

Press TV – August 24, 2018

Pakistan has called on the US to immediately correct a newly released statement about a phone conversation between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and new Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.

US State Department said in a statement on Thursday that Pompeo has called on Khan to take “decisive action” against “terrorists” during a phone call he made to wish him success after he was sworn into office.

Pompeo “raised the importance of Pakistan taking decisive action against all terrorists operating in Pakistan and its vital role in promoting the Afghan peace process,” said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office, however, rejected the statement, saying there was no such mention of “terrorists operating in Pakistan,” during the conversation.

“Pakistan takes exception to the factually incorrect statement issued by US State Department on the phone call between Prime Minister Khan and Secretary Pompeo,” said foreign office spokesman Mohammad Faisal, calling on the states department to “immediately correct” the statement.

Nauert indicated there would be no correction in response to Pakistan’s complaint. “I can only say we stand by our readout,” Nauert told a news conference.

Washington has for years accused Islamabad of allowing militants and terrorist groups to operate relatively freely in Pakistan’s porous border regions to carry out operations in neighboring Afghanistan, an allegation Pakistan denies.

US President Donald Trump said in his first tweet of 2018 that Washington had “foolishly given Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid over the last 15 years.” He threatened to cut off foreign aid to Pakistan, once again accusing Islamabad of harboring violent extremists.

Pakistani officials have frequently said the US government is making Pakistan a scapegoat to cover Washington’s failure in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan has been gripped by insecurity since the United States and its allies invaded the country to topple Taliban as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror in 2001. Many parts of the country remain plagued by militancy despite the presence of foreign troops.

August 24, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 1 Comment