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Tehran Has Sovereign Right to Develop Missile Program – Moscow

Sputnik – 19.09.2018

MOSCOW – Moscow believes that the development of the Iranian missile program is Tehran’s sovereign right, and all the issues arising in this regard should be resolved without pressure, especially military, at the negotiating table, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told Sputnik.

“We have always supported resolving any problems that arise in interstate relations and in the dialogue on acute issues through negotiations and through relevant agreements,” Ryabkov said on Wednesday.

The deputy foreign minister further stressed that the developments in the situation around the Iran nuclear deal and other issues that American counterparts put in the context of this deal, as well as Iran’s behavior, attracted Russia’s close attention.

Speaking to Sputnik reporter, Ryabkov also revealed that the meeting of the five mediators and Iran at the level of foreign ministers will take place on the sidelines of the high-level week of the UN General Assembly at the end of September.

“The meeting of the participants of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — those who stayed in the agreement — will be held at the ministerial level,” the official stated.

He also noted that the definite time is being coordinated, and the European External Action Service is expected to make a relevant announcement in the near future. However, Ryabkov assured that it was certain that the meeting would take place.

The JCPOA stipulates the gradual removal of the West’s sanctions against Iran in exchange for Tehran maintaining a peaceful nature of its nuclear program. However, US President Donald Trump announced in May the withdrawal of the United States from the JCPOA and the reinstating of the first round of sanctions in August.

September 19, 2018 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , , | 2 Comments

Forget Putin, Trump is Acting in Every Way Like Netanyahu’s Manchurian Candidate

By Miko Peled | Mint Press News | September 15, 2018

In the months leading up to the 25th anniversary of the Oslo Accords, the U.S. has colluded with Israel in a string of policies and decisions that completely undermine the legitimacy of the agreement, not to mention Palestinian claims to justice, freedom and ultimately peace. As these policies unfold, one cannot help recalling the words of the great Palestinian writer Ghassan Kanafani, who said that talking with the Israelis is “a conversation between the sword and the neck.”

There is a clear common thread that binds several of the U.S. policies enacted by President Donald Trump since last December. Moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem; pulling out of the Iran agreement; defunding UNRWA, and closing the PLO mission in D.C. all satisfy the objectives of the Israeli government while not benefiting the United States in the least. One might imagine that the United States is executing Israel’s policy, reading as it were from a menu that was provided by Benjamin Netanyahu. In fact, the Trump administration is every Israeli prime minister’s dream.

Jerusalem

Moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was reckless, dangerous and absurd. The occupation and annexation of Jerusalem by Israel was in violation of UN resolution 181 from November 1947, which states in “Part III, City of Jerusalem” that:

“The City of Jerusalem shall be established as a corpus separatum under a special international regime and shall be administered by the United Nations. The Trusteeship Council shall be designated to discharge the responsibilities of the Administering Authority on behalf of the United Nations.”

Resolution 194 from December 1948 — in other words, more than a year after Resolution 181 was passed and the western half of Jerusalem was occupied and subjected to a total full ethnic cleansing, where not one Palestinian was permitted to remain — reiterates this:

8 | Resolves that, in view of its association with three world religions, the Jerusalem area, including the present municipality of Jerusalem plus the surrounding villages and towns, the most eastern of which shall be Abu Dis; the most southern, Bethlehem; the most western, Ein Karim (including also the built-up area of Motsa); and the most northern, Shu’fat, should be accorded special and separate treatment from the rest of Palestine and should be placed under effective United Nations control …

For this reason all diplomatic missions to Israel are situated in Tel Aviv and not Jerusalem. The diplomatic missions in Jerusalem mostly pre-date the establishment of the State of Israel and are considered sovereign and independent of their countries’ embassies in Tel Aviv. Even the U.S. consulate until recently reported directly to Washington, and the consul general was in fact an ambassador. This was not unlike placing the U.S. embassy to France in Berlin and — according to sources I spoke to at the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem — now that the ambassador’s office was moved to Jerusalem, the place is in a state of confusion and it is not at all clear who is responsible for what.

In addition to all of the above, the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel legitimizes the crime of ethnic cleansing and destruction which Israel has perpetrated in Jerusalem since 1948. This move did not benefit the U.S. in any way but it boosted Benjamin Netanyahu’s political power, and can be viewed as nothing less than a personal political gift from the president of the United States to Netanyahu.

Iran Deal

Israel, and Netanyahu, in particular, have been against the nuclear deal with Iran from the very beginning. Needing a diversion from its own war crimes and violations of international law, Israel has for many years pointed to Iran as a threat to itself and the rest of the world. This was a point of serious disagreement between the Obama administration and Israel and then Donald Trump put the disagreement to rest and the U.S. withdrew from the agreement.

According to a piece in Rand.com, Trump withdrew the U.S. from the agreement “despite a lack of evidence that Iran is violating the agreement. To the contrary, the International Atomic Energy Agency has verified Iran’s compliance numerous times.” The article continues by saying, “the implications of this decision could be disastrous for the Middle East under any conceivable scenario.”

piece in the British Independent bluntly claims that:

“The president’s foreign policy has so far been marked by a significant ratcheting of tensions with Iran, driven by his administration’s noted friendliness towards Israel, which opposes the [Iran nuclear] deal.”

According to a report from August 2018 by the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency:

“Since Implementation Day, the Agency has been verifying and monitoring the implementation by Iran of its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA.” The report states that among other things:

“Since 16 January, 2016 [JCPOA Implementation Day], the Agency has verified and monitored Iran’s implementation of its nuclear-related commitments in accordance with the modalities set out in the JCPOA.”

The report states clearly that Iran was and continues to be compliant in all areas of the agreement. All the other countries that are signatories to the agreement remain committed to it, and they all insisted that a U.S. withdrawal was a mistake. Only one person insisted the U.S. must withdraw, and that is Benjamin Netanyahu, and he is the one person whose claims President Trump decided to accept. Once again, the United States had nothing to gain and everything to lose from the withdrawal and once again Netanyahu personally gained political strength as the sole voice to which the president of the United States listens.

UNRWA

The United States can see no benefit whatsoever in denying UNRWA funding; yet this is what the Trump administration decided to do. The very agency responsible for providing relief, albeit inadequate, to the refugees of Palestine was receiving $300 million per year, which is a drop in the bucket in terms of relief and of course in terms of the U.S. government’s total budget. In an open letter to Palestine refugees and UNRWA staff, dated September 1, 2018, Pierre Krähenbühl, UNRWA Commissioner-General, writes,

“The need for humanitarian action … in the case of Palestine refugees, was caused by forced displacement, dispossession, loss of homes and livelihoods, as well as by statelessness and occupation. … [T]he undeniable fact remains that they have rights under international law and represent a community of 5.4 million men, women and children who cannot simply be wished away.”

“The attempt to make UNRWA somehow responsible for perpetuating the crisis is disingenuous at best,” the commissioner said, responding to claims made by Netanyahu that “UNRWA is an organization that perpetuates the problem of the Palestinian refugees.” Netanyahu also stated that UNRWA “perpetuates the narrative of the so-called ‘right of return,’” which the state of Israel fears — and therefore, according to Netanyahu, “UNRWA must disappear.”

According to The New York Times, this move was pushed hard by Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, “as part of a plan to compel Palestinian politicians to drop demands for many of those refugees to return.”  The right of the refugees to return is enshrined in UN Resolution 194, and one wonders why the U.S. should object to Palestinian demand for return of the refugees to their homes? Once again this is a gift to Netanyahu, who wants to see the refugee issue disappear.

PLO Mission

A product of the Oslo Accords, the PLO mission in Washington is the de-facto embassy of Palestine, the face and the voice of the Palestinian Authority in the U.S. Now, almost exactly on the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Accords, the Trump administration announces the closing of the mission. It could have come as no surprise when Netanyahu, who fiercely opposed the Accords, applauded the U.S. administration decision. This was yet one more insignificant step for the U.S., and one giant gift to Benjamin Netanyahu.

September 17, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , , , | 7 Comments

US War Strategists: Military Defeats and Political Success

By James Petras • Unz Review • September 15, 2018

Introduction

In a previous article (US: The Century of Lost Wars) I recorded the repeated US military defeats over the past two decades. In this discussion I will describe the role of military strategists who bear responsibility for the US defeats, but also for Israeli political successes.

The key to this apparent contradiction is to uncover how and why the destruction of Israeli adversaries prolonged costly US military invasions.

The two outcomes are inter-related. The same US military strategists whose policies lead to failed US wars in the Middle East facilitated and augmented the power of Israel.

US war strategists’ operations reflect ‘dual loyalties’. On the one-hand they receive their elite education and high positions in the US, while their political loyalties to Tel Aviv express their Israel First strategic decisions.

Our hypothesis is that dual loyalist strategists have fabricated threats, identified adversaries and committed hundreds of thousands of US soldiers to losing wars based on calculations that effectively increase Israeli power and influence in the Middle East.

We will proceed by identifying the war strategists and their policies and conclude by proposing an alternative framework for re-thinking the relationship between dual citizens and military strategy.

The ‘Best and the Brightest’: The Blind Ally of Military Defeats

There is an apparent contradiction between the high academic achievements of elite military strategists and their abominable record in pursuing military conflicts.

Most, if not all, policy makers who led the US in prolonged wars against Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Syria were Israel-firsters, either Zionists or Israeli ‘fellow travelers’.

In each of these wars, the Israel firster war strategists, (1) identified the enemy, (2) exaggerated the threat to the US and (3) grossly inflated the military capacity of the targeted country. They started with Iraq and Afghanistan and then proceeded to the other nations, all opponents of Israel.

By ‘coincidence’ all countries supported the Palestinians’ rights of self-determination and opposed Israeli annexation and colonization of Arab lands.

Driven by their loyalty to Israel’s ‘expansionist goals’, the military strategists ignored the ‘real world’ political and economic costs to the US people and state. Professional and academic credentials, nepotism and tribal loyalties, each contributed to the Israel firsters advance to securing strategic decision-making positions and elite advisory posts in the Pentagon, State Department, Treasury and White House.

Their policies led to an unending trillion-dollar war in Afghanistan; losing wars in Libya, Iraq and Syria; and costly economic sanctions against Iran.

The main beneficiary was Israel which confronted less political and military opposition; zero cost in lives and money; and substantial gains in territory.

Why did the Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Chicago, Johns Hopkins’ cum laude graduates repeatedly produce the worst possible military outcomes?

In part because the US acted as an instrument of another power (Israel). Moreover, the Israel firsters never were obliged to reflect in self-criticism nor to admit their failures and rectify their disastrous strategies..

Their refusal to assume their responsibilities resulted from several causes. Their criteria for success was based on whether their policies advanced Israeli goals, not US interests.

Moreover, while their decisions were objectionable to US citizens they were supported by the 52 Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organization including the powerful Zionist lobby, AIPAC, which dictated Middle East policy to both political parties and the US Congress.

Ordinarily, military strategists whose policies lead to repeated political disasters are denounced, fired or even investigated for treason. In our experience nothing of the sort happened.

The best and the brightest rotated between six-digit jobs in Washington to seven-digit positions on Wall Street, or secured positions in lucrative law firms in Washington and New York (many with offices in Israel) or were appointed to prestigious academic posts in Ivy League universities.

What Should be Done?

There are countervailing measures which can lessen the impact of the strategic policies of the Israel Firsters. Academic Israel firsters should be encouraged to remain in Academia; rather than serve Israel in the State.

If they remain in the Ivory Tower they will inflict less destructive policies on American citizens and the state.

Secondly, since the vast-majority of Israel firsters are more likely to be arm chair war monger, who have not risked their lives in any of the wars that they promote, obligatory recruitment into combat zones would dampen their ardor for wars.

Thirdly, as matters stand, since many more Israel firsters choose to serve in the so-called Israeli Defense (sic) Force (IDF) they should reimburse US taxpayers for their free ride to education, health and welfare .

Fourthly, since most Israel firsters who volunteer to join the IDF prefer shooting unarmed Palestinian protesters, medics, journalists and kite flying kids they should be drafted into the US Army to serve in Afghanistan and face armed Taliban fighters surrounding Kabul, an experience which might knock a bit of realism in their dreams of converting the Middle East into an Israeli fiefdom.

Many national loyalties are forged by shared lives with families and friends of US soldiers who endure endless wars. Israel firsters dispatched to the war front would receive existential experiences that the Harvard, Princeton and Yale military strategists who make wars for Israel failed to understand.

Obligatory courses on the genocide of millions of Palestinian, Iraqi, Syrian, and Libyan people would enrich Israel firsters understanding of “holocausts’ in diverse ethno-religious settings.

Face to face encounters in life threatening military situations, where superior arms do not prevail, would deflate the hubris, arrogance and superiority complexes which fuel the tribal loyalties of Israel firsters.

In conclusion we offer modest suggestions for educated and cultured scientists, doctors, artists and entrepreneurs:

1/ Convert your skills to raising a new generation which will defend democratic values and social solidarity and eschew wars, persecution and phony claims of anti-semitism against critics of an ethnically exclusionary state.

2/ Forsake exclusive control of the mass media which glorifies Israeli war crimes and denigrates critics as ‘anti’ Semites for speaking truth to power.

Let’s join together to liberate America from military entanglements that privilege Israel while thirty million Us workers lack health coverage and forty percent of upstate New York children live in poverty.

Yes, there is an honorable place for everyone who joins in solidarity with the victims of Israeli First war strategists.

September 16, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

After 65 Years the US Considering a New Coup D’Etat in Tehran – Iranian Scholars

Sputnik – September 8, 2018

The lessons of the 1953 coup d’etat in Iran remain unlearned by the US leadership, Iranian scholars told Sputnik. Washington has adopted old methods of psychological warfare and economic pressure to manipulate Tehran into making concessions; however, over the past 65 years the Islamic Republic of Iran has dramatically changed, they said.

The Trump administration has adopted the methods Washington resorted to 65 years ago to carry out a coup d’etat in Iran, Professor Seyed Mohammad Marandi, an expert on American studies at the University of Tehran, told Sputnik Persian.

“In my opinion, now the situation in Iran is not very similar to that time,” he said. “But the methods used by the US are similar. This is an oil boycott and a psychological war. Then the Persian BBC radio service was engaged in this, now it is BBC television and social networks in Persian sponsored by the West, and thousands of people who conduct psychological cyberwar from Iran to the morning. But, I repeat, now the situation is completely different. The current leadership of Iran is very different from the government of Dr. Mossadegh.”

Marandi’s comment came on the heels of a statement made by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who accused the US of carrying out “actions,” which could lead to yet another coup d’etat in the country.In 1953, the CIA-backed coup d’etat led to the ousting of the legitimately-elected cabinet headed by Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, replacing it with the government of General Fazlollah Zahedi.

According to Marandi, one of Mossadegh’s grave mistakes was that he was “naïve” and “trusted the United States.” At the same time, the former prime minister tried to preserve the pro-Western Iranian monarchy, he added. “In addition, Dr. Mossadegh could not stand being reprimanded, which led him to isolation within the country,” he noted, adding that the United States had used “these numerous internal contradictions.”

“Now the leaders of our country are not so naive and do not cherish illusions about the intentions of the United States,” the Iranian professor emphasized. “Even those who looked optimistically at the future of US-Iranian relations following the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) realized that they could not trust the US and its allies, witnessing [Barack] Obama’s complete inactivity with regard to the JCPOA and Trump’s aggressive policy towards Iran.”

Fuad Izadi, an Iranian researcher specializing in American affairs and a member of the scientific council of the department of US studies at the University of Tehran, shares Marandi’s stance.He stressed that a potential coup d’etat involving the Iranian military under the command of the United States, Britain or another country in Iran is absolutely impossible.

“The senior leadership of the Shah army was educated in America and the Shah himself was an American-British apprentice,” Izadi said. “Today, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and other units of the Iranian army are trained in their country and belong to the people of Iran. Our army will never go against its people.”

He noted that although numerous US programs aimed at regime change in the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) and other countries had never declared their genuine goals openly, their incentives and motivation were clear.

“For example, in the US budget for 2017 such actions were not called as a preparation for a coup, instead they were dubbed “democracy programs,” the researcher remarked, explaining that these endeavors were targeting the states not bowing before Washington, namely Iran, Russia and China.

According to Izadi, the Iranian people should keep in mind the events of 1953 and “closely monitor every step of American officials and their proteges.”Commenting on Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA in May 2018 and the resumption of anti-Iranian sanctions, he noted that the Trump administration’s primary aim is to trigger civil unrest in the country. However, these efforts will prove futile, the researcher foresees, as the people of the IRI know that the real “culprit” behind the sanctions is Trump, not Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

For his part, Marandi highlighted that Washington’s attempts to limit Iran’s access to the US dollar prompted Tehran and other countries to seek alternatives to the greenback.

“It seems that over the past 65 years the Americans have failed to understand how they should deal with the Iranian people,” Izadi concluded.

READ MORE:

Analyst: US, Israel Formed ‘Highly Professional Working Group’ Against Iran

September 8, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Iran, Russia can cooperate to contain US: Ayatollah Khamenei

Press TV – September 7, 2018

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei says the developments in Syria and the US defeat in the Arab country show that Washington can be contained.

The Leader made the remarks in a Friday meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who traveled to Tehran to participate in a key trilateral summit on Syria, hosted by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and also attended by Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“Cooperation between Iran and Russia on the Syrian issue is a prominent example and a very good experience of bilateral cooperation,” the Leader said.

Ayatollah Khamenei added that the two countries can expand cooperation on global issues, saying, “One of the cases that the two sides can cooperate with each other is to contain the US, because it is a danger to humanity and it is possible to contain it.”

The Leader stated that the Americans suffered a real defeat in Syria and failed to achieve their goals.

Ayatollah Khamenei also said sanctions imposed by the US on Iran, Russia and Turkey are a very strong common ground for strengthening cooperation, and urged Tehran and Moscow to develop political and economic relations and follow up on the agreements of the summit in Tehran.

The Leader stressed the importance of pursuing non-dollar transactions in trade.

Europeans did not fulfill JCPOA commitments: Ayatollah Khamenei

Elsewhere in his remarks, Ayatollah Khamenei said Iran has so far remained committed to a multilateral nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), reached between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries in 2015.

“But the Europeans did not carry out their duties, and it is not acceptable that we completely fulfill our commitments within the JCPOA while they don’t,” the Leader pointed out.

The Leader praised the Russian president’s approach to the nuclear deal, adding that the Islamic Republic would adopt a stance on the JCPOA which would meet its national interests.

Although the US now raises Iran’s missile program and regional developments, their problem with the Islamic Republic relates to issues beyond them, Ayatollah Khamenei said.

The Leader added that the US has been seeking to topple the Islamic Republic over the past 40 years, but Iran has managed to make substantial advancements during this period.

“The resistance of the Islamic Republic and its advances are another successful example that the US can be contained,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.

The Leader also pointed to the deplorable situation of the Yemeni people and their killing at the hands of Saudi Arabia, adding, “The Saudis will definitely fail to achieve a result in Yemen and will not be able to bring the resilient Yemeni people to their knees.”

During the meeting, which was also attended by Iranian First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri, the Russian president said he held very fruitful and good negotiations with President Rouhani on mutual issues of interest, including the situation in Syria.

Iran and Russia discussed the expansion of relations in all fields, particularly in the economic and trade sectors, Putin added.

He said the US is putting obstacles, including banking restrictions, in the way of the development of Tehran-Moscow relations, and added that Washington is making a strategic mistake by limiting financial transactions.

The Russian president expressed regret that the remaining sides to the JCPOA failed to fulfill their commitments under the deal after the US withdrawal.

He said although the Europeans announce that they are seeking ways to keep the nuclear accord alive, they are following the US due to their dependence on Washington.

September 7, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | 2 Comments

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

Tehran Slams French FM’s Remarks on Iranian Missile Program

Al-Manar | August 31, 2018

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi criticized French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian’s Thursday remarks about Iran’s missile program and said such “unwarranted concerns” are rooted in his “wrong perceptions” of the program.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran has repeatedly declared its clear and transparent stance on unwarranted concerns rooted in some countries’ wrong perceptions and ignorance,” Qassemi said in a statement on Friday.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran has always shown that it has never been fearful of dialogue and negotiation and that it believes in it,” he said.

However, in a situation that the outcome of all efforts of Iran and other world powers (the 2015 nuclear deal) is violated by “the bullying and excessive demands” of France’s partners, there is no reason for Iran to trust and negotiate on “unnegotiable issues”, the spokesman added.

“The world and the French statesmen are well aware that Iran’s regional policy is in line with regional and international peace and security and the fight against terrorism and extremism, and if such a campaign is not pleasant to some countries that basically create tensions and crises, they can reform their policies,” he went on to say.

The remarks came after Le Drian warned Thursday that Iran “cannot avoid” talks on its ballistic missile program and role in Middle East conflicts, as European powers work to rescue the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Iranian officials have repeatedly underscored that the country will not hesitate to strengthen its military capabilities, including its missile power, which are entirely meant for defense, and that Iran’s defense capabilities will be never subject to negotiations.

The European Union has vowed to counter US President Donald Trump’s renewed sanctions on Iran, including by means of a new law to shield European companies from punitive measures.

Trump on August 6 signed an executive order re-imposing many sanctions on Iran, three months after pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal.

He said the US policy is to levy “maximum economic pressure” on the country.

Trump also restated his opinion that the 2015 Iran nuclear deal was a “horrible, one-sided deal”.

On May 8, the US president pulled his country out of the JCPOA, which was achieved in Vienna in 2015 after years of negotiations among Iran and the Group 5+1 (Russia, China, the US, Britain, France and Germany).

Following the US exit, Iran and the remaining parties launched talks to save the accord.

August 31, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | 1 Comment

Turkey & Qatar are being punished for refusing to do Washington’s bidding on Iran

By Dan Glazebrook | RT | August 31, 2018

For years, Turkey and Qatar were at the vanguard of the Western imperial project in the Middle East. Having had their fingers burnt in Syria, however, they’re refusing to facilitate Washington’s Iran plans – and paying the price.

Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia in May last year – his first foreign trip as president – was significant for two main reasons: first, the $110 billion arms deal it produced, and secondly, the regional blockade of Qatar it heralded. This was widely seen as having been greenlighted by Trump during his visit. The impact of the blockade – implemented by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt – was, however, immediately mitigated by increased trade with Iran and Turkey in particular, limiting its overall impact.

This month’s attack on the Turkish economy, however, has had far more devastating results. Trump’s tweet on August 10 – announcing a doubling of steel and aluminum tariffs on an economy already hit hard by his trade war – sent the Turkish currency into freefall. By the end of the day’s trading, it had lost 16 percent of its value, reaching a nadir of 7.2 to the dollar two days later; before his tweet, it had never fallen below six to the dollar. Trump’s move came on the back of Federal Reserve policies that were already threatening to provoke financial crises in over-indebted emerging markets such as Turkey. These are harsh punishments for countries long considered prime US allies in the region.

I have just authorized a doubling of Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum with respect to Turkey as their currency, the Turkish Lira, slides rapidly downward against our very strong Dollar! Aluminum will now be 20% and Steel 50%. Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 10, 2018

A NATO member since 1952 (following Turkish involvement in the Korean war on the side of the US), Turkey has hosted a major US airbase at Incirlik since 1954. This has been essential to US operations in the region, and even housed the US nuclear missiles which triggered the Cuban missile crisis. Incirlik was crucial to the US-UK bombing of Iraq in 1991, and, although the Turkish parliament narrowly prevented its use for the 2003 redux, Turkey has been the launchpad for subsequent US strikes both in Iraq and in Afghanistan.

Qatar, meanwhile, is, to this day, run by the family – the al-Thanis – appointed as Britain’s proxies in the 19th century. Granted formal independence only in 1971, the country has remained deeply tied into Western foreign policy since then. Both its ‘post-independence’ rulers were educated at the UK’s Sandhurst military academy, and it, like Turkey, hosts a major US base, while its ruling family, like those of the other Gulf monarchies, are dependent on Western arms transfers to maintain their power. In 2011, Qatar played a major role in NATO’s Libya operation, providing airstrikes, military training, $400 million of funding to insurgent groups, and even ground forces – not to mention the major propaganda role played by the Qatari-owned network Al Jazeera.

Then, in mid-2011, both countries threw themselves headlong into the war to overthrow the Syrian government. Turkish President Erdogan had previously enjoyed relatively warm relations with his Southern neighbor, but at some stage decided that the Western-backed rebellion was going to win, and he wanted in on it. Turkey’s collaboration was crucial for the London-Washington Syria project, not only to give it a semblance of regional legitimacy, but more importantly because its 800km border with the country was to be the conduit for the tens of thousands of armed fighters on which the insurgency would depend.

Unwilling – and, following the decimation of their armies in Iraq and Afghanistan, probably unable – to provide the ground forces necessary to destroy the Syrian Arab Army themselves, the ‘regime-change regimes’ of the West relied on states like Qatar and Turkey to act as intermediaries to facilitate weapons transfers, provide finance and smooth the passage of foreign fighters. Both states, heady with the prospects of the economic and geopolitical rewards that would follow Assad’s removal, and believing their own networks’ fantasies about an imminent collapse, were more than happy to act as accomplices. Over the years that followed, the resources they committed – and the devastation that resulted – were immense. In the case of Turkey, in particular, the spillover would prove disastrous.

Less than three years into the war, the International Crisis Group estimated that Turkey had spent $3 billion on the war on Syria. Yet this figure, high as it is, represents a fraction of the true costs involved. A detailed report in Newsweek in 2015 noted the huge increase in military spending following the start of the Syrian war, rising from $17 billion per year in 2010, to $22.6 billion in 2014, an increase of 25 percent. Furthermore, Turkey has been the first port of call for millions of Syrians fleeing the war. This alone had cost the country an estimated $8 billion by 2015.

Added to this, the report says, are the ‘collateral costs’ resulting from the deterioration of relations with Russia following Turkey’s downing of a Russian jet in 2015, which it estimated could be as high as $3.7 billion due to lost Russian tourism, investment and trade. Trade with Syria, of course, also slumped by “70 percent as a direct effect from the Syrian war,” from $1.8 billion worth of exports in 2010 to $497 million two years later. In place of this legitimate trade – much of it in energy resources – however, came a flourishing new illicit trade. This new trade imposed “an additional cost to the Turkish economy: a growing, untaxed, hard-to-control black market economy. To combat its effect on government revenue, Turkey’s Energy Market Regulatory Agency declared an increase in inspections and control mechanisms in Turkey.”

Ultimately, however, the government opted to facilitate, rather than attempt to control, this burgeoning black market, issuing in April 2015 “new border regulations that enabled Turkey to open its borders to uncontrolled cash inflow and remittances. According to the new law, travelers no longer had to declare transported currency or profit amounts at the customs booth.” This policy would, noted former governor of Turkey’s central bank Durmus Yilmaz, “attract black money to flow into Turkey.”

“In sum,” concluded the report, “as Turkey incrementally left its prior foreign policy agenda of “Zero Problems with Neighbors” and moved towards an Assad-centric policy, the costs imposed on its economy multiplied. This can be observed directly from the refugee costs, military spending, border security costs and the changing composition of trade volume and quality of liquidity flows in the economy.” Furthermore, “The data suggest… that the more aggressive Turkey gets in its Syria policy in terms of military involvement, the more aggressively these costs rise.” Erdogan’s enthusiastic collaboration with the regime-changers in Washington and London had crippled his country’s economy – not to mention spawning a new era of sectarian militancy in the form of ISIS, which would launch multiple terrorist attacks within Turkey itself.

Being far removed from the conflict, the Syrian war’s impact on Qatar was not nearly as severe. Nevertheless, Qatar, too, pumped billions into the insurgency. The Financial Times noted in 2013: “The gas-rich state of Qatar has spent as much as $3 billion over the past two years supporting the rebellion in Syria, far exceeding any other government.”  It added that “Qatar has sent the most weapons deliveries to Syria, with more than 70 military cargo flights into neighboring Turkey between April 2012 and March this year,” showing clearly the division of labor between Qatari finance and Turkish logistics.

Turkey and Qatar have thus put themselves right at the forefront of Western efforts to overthrow the Syrian state. To date, however – other than an ever-growing pile of burnt Syrian corpses and a huge hole in their own finances – they have nothing to show for it.

In hindsight, the Turkish downing of a Russian jet in November 2015 can be seen as a last-ditch attempt to test the resolve, not of Russia, but of the West. Erdogan wanted to know whether or not the US was going to put their money where their mouth was and put some decisive muscle into the conflict. In the escalation that followed the attack, Turkey immediately put forward plans for a ‘no fly zone’ – euphemism for the sort of all-out aerial bombardment that befell Libya.

But nothing came of it. That was the moment Turkey realized the West was not about to commit anything like the resources necessary to actually bring about victory. Assad was here to stay. Turkey would have to deal with that. And that meant dealing with Russia. The slow realignment of Turkish foreign policy had begun. And earlier this year, with tails no doubt firmly between their legs, even Qatar re-established relations with the Syrian government.

So, when Trump came knocking for buyers for the West’s next brilliant idea – war on Iran, beginning with a brutal economic siege – neither Turkey nor Qatar were exactly chomping at the bit to sign up. The suggestion was even less appealing than the disastrous Syrian gambit, targeting an even more important trading partner, and with even less chance of influence over some mythical future government.

Qatar shares a major gas field – South Pars – with Iran, and is dependent on Iran for accessing eastern energy markets, while Iran is the major source of Turkish energy imports. Following Syria, neither country has much nose left to cut off, even if they had wanted to spite their own face. Trump’s merciless attack on their economies is yet another sign of the increasing US inability to bend once-pliable clients to its will. For all his bluster, it is a clear admission of weakness and failure.

Dan Glazebrook is a freelance political writer who has written for RT, Counterpunch, Z magazine, the Morning Star, the Guardian, the New Statesman, the Independent and Middle East Eye, amongst others. His first book “Divide and Ruin: The West’s Imperial Strategy in an Age of Crisis” was published by Liberation Media in October 2013. It featured a collection of articles written from 2009 onwards examining the links between economic collapse, the rise of the BRICS, war on Libya and Syria and ‘austerity’. He is currently researching a book on US-British use of sectarian death squads against independent states and movements from Northern Ireland and Central America in the 1970s and 80s to the Middle East and Africa today.

August 31, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Iran hauls US before international court over ‘illegal’ sanctions

Press TV – August 27, 2018

The International Court of Justice has begun hearing a lawsuit brought by Iran against new US sanctions ordered by the Trump administration.

Iran last month lodged a complaint with the Hague-based tribunal, arguing that the sanctions violate the terms of a 1955 friendship treaty between the two countries.

The country opened a lawsuit Monday demanding the UN’s top court order the suspension of the renewed US sanctions.

“The United States is publicly propagating a policy intended to damage as severely as possible Iran’s economy and Iranian nationals and companies,” Iran’s lawyer Mohsen Mohebi told the court.

“This policy is nothing but naked economic aggression against my country,” he said, adding “Iran will put up the strongest resistance to the US economic strangulation, by all peaceful means.”

Tehran has called on the United Nations court to order the immediate lifting of the sanctions, and demanded compensation for damages incurred in their wake.

Sanctions had been lifted under a 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and six other countries – the US, Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia.

President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled the US out of the deal with Iran in May and pledged to reimpose the most restrictive sanctions on the country.

Washington reinstated the first batch of sanctions in early August and will re-impose the second batch in November which will primarily be meant to undermine Tehran’s oil exports.

The United States’ lawyers will present their arguments on Tuesday. They are expected to argue that the ICJ should not have jurisdiction in the dispute.

The oral arguments, essentially a request by Iran for a provisional ruling, will last for four days, with a decision to follow within a month.

The ICJ was set up in 1946 to resolve international disputes. Its rulings are binding but on rare occasions they have been ignored by certain countries, chiefly the United States.

The US will respond formally in oral arguments on Tuesday, reportedly arguing that the United Nations court should not have jurisdiction in the dispute.

US lawyers will reportedly claim that the friendship treaty signed before the Islamic Revolution in 1979 is no longer valid and that the sanctions Washington has levied against Tehran, do not violate it anyway.

August 27, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , , | 2 Comments

Baghdad grapples with ‘curse’ of US sanctions on Iran

By Omar al-Jaffal | Asia Times | August 17, 2018

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has raised the level of uncertainty over how Iraq will handle long-expected US sanctions on Iran.

In the span of less than a week, Abadi went from pledging to abide by the sanctions the day after they were imposed, to backtracking on his statement.

“I said yes, we will abide … but abide when it comes to dollar transactions,” Abadi told reporters Monday. The confusion for Iraqi citizens and political parties is even greater for the Central Bank of Iraq.

“Dealing in dollars with Iran has been banned for a very long time,” the bank’s director general of financial operations, Mahmoud Dagher, told the media. “Neither the bank nor the banking system deals with Iran in dollars when it comes to foreign trade.”

Iran is not only a neighbor to Iraq, with a land border of more than 1,000 kilometers. It dominates the Iraqi market and political scene.

Prime Minister Abadi’s vocal opposition to the US sanctions stems from this hegemony, especially as he is seeking a second term in office. His coalition placed third in the May parliamentary elections and he will need Tehran’s support moving forward.

Politically, Iran has influence on a large number of Shiite parties in the government and parliament. Some of these parties have announced they will mount a “break the siege” campaign to counter the US sanctions on Iran.

Militarily, Tehran supports and trains dozens of militias in Iraq, and these groups sharply criticized Abadi over his initial acquiescence to the sanctions. The United States also holds major influence in the military and economic spheres.

As in the past, Abadi is walking a tightrope between Tehran and Washington, both of which have their share of clout in green lighting the next prime minister.

Iranian dairy, Iranian cars

Where there is political and military influence in Iraq, there is economic reverberation.

Hamid Hosseini, the secretary-general of the Iran-Iraq Chamber of Commerce, said in December that “Iraq, for Iran, equals the markets of three continents: Europe, America and Africa.”

Iranian goods account for about 17% of the Iraqi market, making it the second largest destination for exports after Turkey in this respect. Iranian exports to Iraq have risen exponentially over the past decade.

Before US sanctions were reimposed, Iran said it was seeking to control a quarter of the Iraqi market and increase the volume of trade from $13 billion in 2017 to $20 billion in the coming years.

In the markets of central and southern Iraq, one can clearly observe how Iranian goods dominate shop shelves and how dairy products occupy a large place in the refrigerators.

On the streets, the Iranian-made SAIPA and Samand cars are too many to count. The cheap, poor-quality vehicles have not only entered Iraq by highway — they are assembled at factories in the heart of the country.

Iraq’s power plants are heavily reliant on diesel and gas to operate, and in this regard, Tehran has an agreement to export diesel and about 25 million cubic meters of gas per day to Iraqi power plants.

Even so, Iraq continues to suffer from major power shortages, which this summer prompted major waves of protests as temperature hovered around 50 degrees Celsius. The Iraqi government since 2005 has been compelled to conclude successive deals with Iran to ease the shortfall, importing 1,500 to 2,500 megawatts of electricity per year.

For Iraq, Iranian religious tourism is a major source of income.

Each year, about three million Iranian pilgrims flock to the shrines of the descendants of the the Prophet Mohammad in the provinces of central and southern Iraq.

Baghdad charges a $40 visa fee per tourist, but Abadi’s government quickly announced it would reduce that amount for pilgrims as sanctions on Tehran came into effect.

Iranian goods are often the source of ridicule in Iraq for their lack of quality. But they are hugely popular in the central and southern provinces of the country, as a much more affordable option than goods made in Turkey. Not to mention the foodstuffs Iraqis depend on for their daily diet.

For much of the population, those low prices make a major difference in the household budget, especially with the rise of unemployment and poverty following the price of oil – the key export on which Baghdad relies to conduct about 97% of its economic activities.

Iran’s trade surplus with the Iraqi private sector is more than $7 billion.

Against this backdrop, the Iraqi government appears at a loss, with scant plans in place to deal with the first package of US sanctions against Iran, which is light compared to the second round coming in November.

Dr. Mohammed Saleh, an economic adviser to the prime minister, says Iraq faces a dilemma in the coming period.

“Given the closed border with Syria and the dangerous situation [on the border] with Jordan, for Iraq only Turkey remains” to compensate for the shortage in Iranian goods when the second tranche of US sanctions comes into force. “But also [Turkey] is in a vague position as a result of the US sanctions,” he added, with a note of desperation.

“Iraq will have to comply with the US sanctions on Iran and it will have to compensate for the loss of Iranian goods by producing some of them,” Saleh told Asia Times, adding that this goes especially for the gas sector.

“We will also have to revive the manufacturing of oil products by reactivating refineries suspended from work. The same goes for agriculture, if Iraq can persuade the Turkish side to up Iraq’s water quotas.”

Asked whether Iraq had immediate plans to implement what he had referred to, he said: “Unfortunately, so far there are no actual plans on the ground,” stressing that Iraq was still reeling from the war against ISIS and the failure to form a government after the latest elections.

Made in Iraq?

Falah al-Rubaie, professor of economics at the Faculty of Management and Economics at Mustansiriya University in Baghdad, said the sanctions should be seen as an opportunity for Iraq. An opportunity to reconsider its economic policy in the fields of industry and agriculture, and to start competing with Iranian goods through local production.

“Iraq has the space to activate such a policy,” Rubaie told Asia Times. “But such a decision requires political will and belief in achieving development.”

He said Iraq’s economic predicament was not for a lack of strategies. “There have been more than 16 strategies developed by successive governments related to industry, agriculture, trade and others sectors, in addition to the existence of four development plans since 2003.

“All these plans sit on the shelf because of the confusion of political decision-makers and many of them are linked to Iran politically, which facilitates the import of their products at the expense of Iraqi development plans.

“The absence of development and the return to oil revenue is what Iraqi politicians have been doing since 2003 in order to secure their personal benefits at the expense of the country’s interest,” Rubaie added.

Up till now, Iraq has not faced major issues with Tehran or Washington over the latest US sanctions.

“Trade between the two countries (Iraq and Iran) is proceeding normally,” said Nasir Behrouz, Iran’s trade adviser in Baghdad. “The import and export process with Iraq continues at all ports.

“Iran is determined to expand its presence in the Iraqi market to suit the interests of the two countries,” Behrouz was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.

The US, for its part, has not flagged any sanctions violations by Iraq to date, despite alarmist reports in the local press.

The US embassy in Baghdad issued a statement of clarification after State Department spokesperson Heather Nauret warned Tuesday that Washington would “continue to hold countries accountable for any violations.”

The embassy said Nauret’s statement had been misinterpreted and stated categorically that there was “no breach of sanctions” by Iraq in dealing with Iran.

The economic adviser to PM Abadi described the sanctions against Iran as “the curse” and said that the second round was an impending disaster that Iran must redress.

He did not say whether Iraq would be able to tackle this curse and find a substitute for Iranian imports.

August 17, 2018 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | 1 Comment

Trump’s sanctions on Iran dig deeper grave for US forces in Afghanistan

By Finian Cunningham | RT | August 16, 2018

The dramatic, and seemingly unstoppable, surge of Taliban offensives across Afghanistan is proof that the US is fast becoming the latest foreign power to succumb to failure in a land known for for being the “graveyard of empires”.

But unlike past empires defeated in Afghanistan, the US stands out as singularly contributing to its own ill-fate through excessive blundering and its legacy of criminal duplicity.

In particular, Washington’s obsession with confronting neighboring Iran and plotting regime change in Tehran could well be the tipping point in Afghanistan. The point, that is, where the US tips itself into a strategic, military grave it has been digging in Afghanistan over the past two decades.

After 17 years of US military occupation costing the US taxpayer trillions of dollars, the Taliban insurgents seem to be able to launch spectacular attacks at will against the Washington-backed government in Kabul. By any measure, that portends a historic defeat for Washington’s imperial ambitions. And not just in Afghanistan.

Over the past week, a strategic city, Ghazni, only 150 kms south from the capital was under Taliban occupation for several days before the militants appeared to make a tactical retreat to surrounding areas.

Then in the capital, Kabul, on Thursday, the Taliban mounted a gun battle on a military-intelligence training base, as if to underline the ineffectualness of US-backed security forces. A military intelligence base caught in a surprise attack?

Further north, in Faryab province, an Afghan National Army base was reportedly over-run by militants with the apparent loss of 30 troops and the remaining 70 captured. Provincial elders said the base was easily captured by the Taliban because it lacked reinforcements, ammunition and food. So much for US support.

Recall that Afghanistan was supposed to be the “Soviet Union’s Vietnam”. That was how US planners like Zbigniew Brzezinski gleefully referred to Afghanistan and their nefarious scheme to inflict on the Soviets what the US had ignominiously suffered in Vietnam only a few years earlier. In 1979, Soviet troops were lured into the Central Asian country to prop up an allied government in Kabul coming under attack from US-backed tribal fighters, the Mujahideen.

Like British imperial troops a century before, the Soviets suffered defeat in the rugged mountains of Afghanistan at the hands of fearless fighters.

Of course, the Soviets were not just up against Afghans. The CIA had weaponized the Mujahideen with Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and other sophisticated munitions. Along with Britain’s MI6, the Saudis and Pakistani military intelligence, the Afghan insurgents were turned into a jihadist army which later evolved into the Al Qaeda terror network.

The irony is, however, that the “Soviet Vietnam” has now turned into another US quagmire – an American Vietnam redux.

Following the September 11 terror attacks in 2001 on New York City and Washington DC, the George W Bush administration rushed into Afghanistan in an act of revenge against Al Qaeda – the very organization that the Americans had earlier helped create.

Nearly 17 years later, the US military is still bogged down in Afghanistan with no viable exit plan in sight. The war is officially America’s longest war, surpassing the duration of the Vietnam War (1964-75).

Although US casualties are much less than was incurred in Southeast Asia, the financial cost of Afghanistan to the US economy is crippling, estimated to be up to $5 trillion, along with the Iraq war. That’s a quarter of the US total national debt of $21 trillion.

US military operations were officially supposed to end in 2014 during the Obama administration. When Donald Trump ran for the presidency in 2016, one of his winning pledges to voters was to scale back US wars. Last year, however, Trump acceded to Pentagon advice to revamp military involvement in Afghanistan, albeit under the guise of “training and support” for local forces.

As this past week’s audacious attacks by the Taliban demonstrates, the US-backed government forces are fighting a losing war. Vast areas of the country are outside of their control. Even the capital appears vulnerable to heavily-mounted raids.

Moreover, the situation can only get worse for the US and its Afghan surrogates.

What may be a decisive factor is the Trump administration’s criminal policy of aggression towards neighboring Iran. In myopic fashion, Washington’s desire to squeeze Iran with “crushing” economic sanctions is liable to rebound, by significantly worsening the security conditions in Afghanistan for US-backed forces.

That’s because as the US imposes tougher sanctions on Iran, following Trump’s abandonment of the international nuclear treaty in May this year, the deteriorating Iranian economy will have a direct deleterious impact on Afghanistan. Thousands of migrant Afghan workers rely on Iran for employment. Their salary remittances are reportedly a major lifeline for families back in Afghanistan.

With the Iranian economy already faltering under US sanctions, droves of unemployed expatriate Afghan workers can be expected to pack up and leave, cutting off the remittances that sustain much of Afghanistan’s economy.

A further impact from Washington’s sanctions on Iran is that landlocked Afghanistan will not be able to avail of Iranian sea ports for imports and exports. Trump is threatening secondary sanctions on any country continuing to do business with Iran. Unless, the US gives Afghanistan a waiver, it will be cut off from commercial ties with Iran and its trading routes to the Indian Ocean.

So, as the US-imposed economic pressure on Iran intensifies through ratcheting up of sanctions – Washington wants a total oil embargo by November – the inevitable result will be worsening social conditions in Afghanistan for the general population there. That lamentable outcome, it is reasonable to assume, will only boost popular support for the Taliban, making the US-backed Afghan forces even more insecure and ineffectual in their operations.

A third factor is that Iran could exercise a more malicious option by increasing military support covertly to the Taliban. Iran is reckoned to have developed a formidable arsenal of advanced missile technology. This week, for example, Tehran showcased a new radar-evading ballistic missile.

Given that the Americans are trying to destroy the Iranian government through vicious economic measures, it would not be at all surprising if Tehran fought back by supplying the Taliban fighters with devastating fire power to hit US forces.

Thus, by running a sanctions vendetta against Iran in the calculation that the economic pain might elicit social unrest and regime change, Washington is likely to end up inflicting serious blowback on its military campaign in Afghanistan.

America’s longest overseas war could turn out to be its most ignominious and wasteful. That’s saying something given the dozens of dirty wars that the US has engaged in over the past century. The repercussions for US global standing cannot be underestimated.

It not only ran a nearly two-decade war in Afghanistan, which was arguably illegal from the very outset, resulted in tens of thousands of casualties and was financially ruinous for the US economy, but the supposed almighty US power will have been defeated in the graveyard of empires largely by its own criminality, stupidity and arrogance.

Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, he is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. For over 20 years he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organizations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Now a freelance journalist based in East Africa, his columns appear on RT, Sputnik, Strategic Culture Foundation and Press TV.

August 16, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Illegal Occupation, Wars for Israel | , , | 3 Comments