Ten Years After Georgia, NATO Still Pushes War – By Strategic Culture Foundation

Ten Years After Georgia, NATO Still Pushes War

On the tenth anniversary this week of the Russo-Georgian War, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev issued a serious, albeit commonsensical, warning. He said the proposed membership of Georgia in the US-led NATO military alliance could result in a “horrible conflict”.

However, Western news media sought to portray Medvedev’s cautionary words as conveying a sinister intent. Britain’s Independent headlined: “Russia threatens [sic] ‘horrible’ conflict if Georgia joins NATO”.

Other news outlets, such as Reuters and Associated Press, did not go as far as using the word “threatens”. But their implied tone relaying Medvedev’s remarks was one of Russia flexing its muscles with intimidation towards the South Caucasus state.

That mischievous insinuation fits in with the wider Western narrative of Russia’s alleged “malign activity” and “threatening posture” towards Eastern European countries in the Baltic, Balkans and Ukraine.

Both the United States and European Union this week reiterated accusations that Russia was illegally occupying Georgian territory owing to Moscow’s support for the two breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia which border with Georgia in the South Caucasus region.

To mark the 10th anniversary of the five-day war in August 2008, the foreign ministers from Poland, the Baltic states and Ukraine’s Kiev regime were reportedly in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi to demonstrate their solidarity over what they called “Russian aggression”.

Georgia is continually cited – along with Ukraine – by American and European politicians as two examples that purportedly prove Russian malfeasance, and thereby justify the relentless buildup of NATO forces along Russia’s Western flank. In other words, Georgia and Ukraine are cause célèbre for NATO’s existence, and for the American and European policy of sanctions against Russia.

Indeed, both Georgia and Ukraine have been cordially invited to join the NATO alliance. The fast-track invitation was reiterated at the NATO summit in Brussels last month where the two countries were hosted as guests of honor by the 29-member bloc.

Subsequently, following the NATO summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin repeated Russia’s well-known opposition to such a further expansion of the US-led military alliance. The proposed additions of Ukraine and Georgia could potentially lead to the installation of American missiles and warplanes smack on Russia’s borders. Putin said that Russia would respond vigorously to such a move, although he did not specify what the “consequences” would entail.

Similarly, Dmitry Medvedev issued a warning this week regarding Georgia and NATO.

Nevertheless, Russia’s reasonable position of perceiving NATO’s expansion as an offensive threat is bizarrely distorted and turned on its head by Western governments and media.

By merely pointing out its grievance stemming from US-led military forces moving ever-closer to its national territory, astoundingly, Russia is portrayed in Western media as the one that is making the threats. It’s quite a feat of mental engineering.

If we listen to Medvedev’s words, he is patently not conveying any sinister intent, as Western media tried to make out.

“There is an unresolved territorial conflict… and would they bring such a country [Georgia] into the [NATO] military alliance?” said Medvedev. “Do they understand the possible implications? It could provoke a horrible conflict.” 

The Russian premier is simply stating what should be an obvious fact: namely, that NATO membership by Georgia in the midst of a territorial dispute with its pro-Russian neighbors, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, would lead to a dangerous conflict.

What Western governments and news media need to do is critically examine the whole premise of NATO’s eastwards expansion since the end of the Cold War in 1991.

That expansion violated commitments given by American leaders to Russian counterparts at the end of the Cold War, first by George Bush Senior and later Bill Clinton.

It is precisely the doubling membership of NATO based mainly on the absorption of former Soviet countries that has so alarmed Russia about military encirclement. Given the relentless anti-Russian rhetoric out of Washington and some of its European allies casting Russia as an enemy it is by no means alarmist that Moscow sees the entire trajectory over the past two decades as a strategic offensive.

Recall too that existential threats to Russia over the past two centuries have come from an eastward expansion of armies out of Europe, under Napoleon and then Nazi Germany. Given the loss of up to 30 million of its people from Nazi imperialist aggression, it is perfectly understandable that Russia today is deeply wary of any military advancement on its territory. And NATO fits that nefarious pattern.

On the specific cases of Ukraine and Georgia, NATO has been very much the instigator of conflicts there, yet it is NATO that poses now as a defender. That inversion of reality is made possible in part because of Western news media distorting historical events, just as they did again this week with regard to reporting Medvedev’s comments on NATO and Georgia.

Following the breakup of the Soviet Union, Ukraine and Georgia have been solicited by Washington, the EU and NATO, as with other former Soviet states. That soliciting has created tensions and instability, not least because that was supposed to be what American leaders said they wouldn’t do.

The conflict in Ukraine came about from American and European Union support for a coup against an elected government in February 2014. The CIA and NATO were also instrumental. The ongoing conflict in Ukraine between the NATO-backed Kiev regime and pro-Russian separatists in the Eastern self-declared republics of Donetsk and Luhansk is not due to Russian aggression; it is a result of the irresponsible and provocative intervention by Washington and its European allies.

The West accuses Russia of “annexing” Crimea, an historical part of Russia, whenever it was the West that allowed a faction of Neo-Nazi Ukrainians to annex Kiev and its government. The ongoing four-year conflict in Ukraine which has killed over 10,000 people is a direct result of NATO imperialist meddling.

On Georgia, after the Western-backed so-called Rose Revolution in 2004 which brought the mercurial Mikhail Saakashvili to power, the former Soviet Republic suddenly became a staunch proponent of NATO. Saakashvili was enthusiastically supported by Washington with weapons and finance. He also made the retaking of Abkhazia and South Ossetia into Georgian territory his big mission. The three neighboring states broke up after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia requested the Russian Federation to recognize their statehoods in March 2008, prompted by the American and European recognition of Kosovo in the Balkans as a self-declared state during the previous month in February 2008. Kosovo broke away from Serbia largely as a result of the military intervention of NATO. Again, NATO was setting the precedent, not Russia.

At Washington’s bidding, Georgian leader Saakashvili sent NATO-backed troops to attack Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia on August 8, 10 years ago this week. The rapid intervention by Russian troops along with Abkhaz forces repelled the Georgian offensive. Wisely, NATO declined to push its support for Saakashvili any further. The war was over in five days, resulting in the formal recognition by Russia of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Today, the US and Europe continue to accuse Russia of illegally occupying Abkhazia and South Ossetia and of violating Georgia’s sovereignty.

Western media make an upside-down analogy with Ukraine. The real analogy is that both Georgia and Ukraine have been destabilized by NATO expansionism, not Russian.

But such are the lies, distortions and self-serving propaganda churned out over and over by Western media in the service of their governments and NATO, there is an appalling failure in the West to learn from history.

When Russia warns that NATO’s expansion is risking horrible conflict that is a straightforward, reasonable observation which is borne out by history. Tragically, thousands of lives have been destroyed by not heeding this warning.

And thousands more – perhaps millions – continue to be put in danger because the Western media willfully misinterpret and misrepresent Russia.

Photo: Twitter

Trump’s Talk of Isolating Iran Speaks More to US Global Isolation – By Finian CUNNINGHAM (Strategic Culture Foundation)

Trump’s Talk of Isolating Iran Speaks More to US Global Isolation

The Trump administration re-imposed tough sanctions on Iran this week, but the move risks further isolating Washington, not Tehran, in the eyes of the world.

President Donald Trump issued a statement to accompany the sweeping sanctions reinstated by Washington. “The Iranian regime faces a choice,” he said. “Either change its threatening, destabilizing behavior and reintegrate with the global economy, or continue down a path of economic isolation.”

Ironically, the same words uttered by Trump could apply more so to the United States.

This increasingly unhinged US regime needs to back off its “threatening, destabilizing behavior” and begin to respect multilateral rules like other nations. Otherwise, the US and its unilateral bullying is leading to its “continuing down the path of economic isolation”.

Trump also warned this week that, “Anybody doing business with Iran won’t be doing business with the US”. Careful what you wish for Donald! That very warning over Iran could end up much worse for your country.

The American president is in danger of recklessly overplaying his hand. His truculent demands that the rest of the world join in US efforts to isolate Iran economically are likely to backfire badly.

In particular, Trump is reinforcing the historic direction underway by Russia, China and others to shift their international trading relations away from relying on the US dollar as reserve currency. Without that privileged status as reserve currency, the US dollar would tank, and so would the entire American economy, based as it is on endless, unaccountable printing of greenbacks.

Russia, China and India are understood to be not willing to comply with Washington’s high-handed demands that they cut business ties with Iran.

Both China and India – Iran’s biggest export markets for its oil industry – have said they are not going to defer to Trump’s sanctions.

The resistance to American diktat is inevitably leading to the rest of the world coming up with new financing mechanisms for conducting trade. That, in turn, is hastening the demise of the US dollar’s international status.

Even the European Union this week pushed back against Trump’s policy to unduly antagonize Iran by trashing the international nuclear accord.

“We are determined to protect European economic operators engaged in legitimate business with Iran,” said the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, in a statement co-signed by the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany.

The 28-member EU is introducing a Blocking Statute which will afford legal protection to its commercial ties with Iran from so-called “secondary sanctions” planned by the Trump administration to hit nations continuing to do business with Tehran.

Washington’s sanctions reimposed this week are aimed at cutting off Iran’s ability to conduct international trade using US dollar payments. But if other nations hold firm to commercial ties with Iran, they will circumvent the American restrictions by necessarily using bilateral currency deals transacted with euro, renminbi, rupee or ruble.

This is a transition already underway due to several overlapping factors, including the growing strategic importance of Russia-China bilateral relations, China’s global economic vision of its One Belt One Road initiative, Eurasian economic integration, and the increasing importance of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) in shaping a multipolar world.

The BRICS represent some 40 per cent of the world economy, and the grouping is signing up new associate nations, such as Turkey and Iran.

That inevitably means the once mighty dominance of the US dollar governing international trade is waning. Its days are numbered. Trump’s bullying towards Iran, and towards others through unilateral wielding of sanctions, is only hastening the global direction of dropping the American dollar as the world reserve currency.

A nation’s currency is all about its ability to command respect or trust from other nations. Washington, under Trump, is fast squandering those values.

President Trump’s policy towards Iran has no legitimate foundation. It is a blatant attempt to destabilize that nation for regime change in contravention of international law and the UN Charter. The rest of the world can see through Washington’s vile mask and its pompous rhetoric. What they see is a thuggish regime that selfishly and arbitrarily makes up its own rules as it goes along.

American power is as unscrupulous as it is riven with hypocrisy. Accusing Iran of “malign behavior” in the Middle East makes Washington sound ridiculous given its record in recent years of destroying whole nations and millions of innocent lives from illegal wars. As well as sponsoring terrorist jihadists to do its dirty work.

Trump’s walking away from the UN-backed international nuclear accord with Iran back in May, which has paved the way for the reimposition of US sanctions, is typical of Washington’s repudiation of multilateral norms for its own unilateral gratification. All signatories to the 2015 nuclear accord, including the EU, Russia and China, have expressed their support for the deal.

UN monitors have confirmed in nearly a dozen reports that Iran has complied fully with the terms of the agreement to restrict its development of nuclear weapons. Honoring its side of the bargain, Iran is fully entitled to sanctions relief mandated by the nuclear accord.

American dishonoring of the deal is solely based on its baseless and pejorative claims alleging Iranian “malign activity”. This is the same faulty American propagandistic mentality that accuses Russia of “election meddling” or China of “military expansionism”.

But what’s even more contemptible is the utter lack of principle even in the Trump administration’s own flawed claims about Iran. While denouncing Iran as an international pariah, Trump has also incongruously offered to negotiate with the Iranian leadership.

Speaking just as the renewed sanctions were coming into force, Trump’s national security advisor John Bolton, told Fox News: “They [Iran’s leaders] could take up the president’s offer to negotiate with them, to give up their ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs fully and really verifiably.”

Where’s the principle in Trump’s logic? If the “Iranian regime” is the “world biggest sponsor of terrorism”, as the Trump administration dubiously claims, thereby justifying its abrogation of the nuclear accord, then how is it ethically acceptable to offer talks to such a supposed pariah?

Clearly, the Trump administration has no principled objection to talking with the Iranians. Just like it has no principled objection to the nuclear agreement itself. Bolton’s assertion that Iran must “give up its ballistic missile program” is an add-on demand that was never covered by the original nuclear negotiations. Bolton’s second claim that Iran “must give up its nuclear weapons program fully and verifiably” is simply a baseless assertion, that is, American propaganda.

Every other party to the nuclear accord, and the competent UN technical monitors, have confirmed that Iran has been in full compliance for the past three years.

Trump’s evident bad faith and lies towards Iran and his outrageous dictate to the international community on how it conducts sovereign business are ensuring that Washington will become further isolated as a rogue state, which is viewed as being beyond the pale of international norms and diplomacy. US global standing is in free fall, soon to be followed by the status of the dollar.

The Trump administration’s attempt at playing hardball over Iran is like the spoilt brat picking up the ball, stomping his feet and threatening the others that he is going away. In the case of the US, the others are saying, “Go ahead, good riddance.”

A STORM IS COMING TO IDLIB; ZIONIST JIHADISTS KILL LAURELED SYRIAN SCIENTIST; HAMA TERRORISTS BOMBED TO OBLIVION – By Ziad Fadel

MISYAAF, HAMA PROVINCE:   Dr. ‘Azeez Isbir, seen in this photo at a conference for scientists, was killed by an embedded MOSSAD agent with the Turkish-supported Free Syrian Army.  The Zionist cockroach ordered the IED which was placed in a car that was remotely triggered.  It is reported to SyrPer that the FSA officer insisted on detonating the IED himself in order to “kill a Christian”. Dr.  ‘Azeez will be remembered forever for his formidable contributions to Syrian missile technology as Director of the Center for Scientific Research, an institution which will enable our army to vanquish the Zionist grubs in the war to liberate all Palestine.  His missile designs are found not only in Syria, but, in Lebanon with Hizbollah and the Ansaar Allaah Movement in Yemen.  May he rest in peace.

Another photo of the martyred Dr. ‘Azeez Isbir courtesy of SANA.

______________________________________________

LATAKIA:

الجيش يحبط هجوما لـ

AL-SARRAAF:  The Nusra group of criminals launched an attack on a small Syrian Army fortified checkpoint this morning in the early hours close to Al-Rubay’ah on the Turk border.  The attack was a miserable failure.  Eyewitness accounts show that 17 rodents were dropped, either killed or wounded and that the rest crawled back to their lairs in Turk-Occupied Syria.

____________________________________________

HAMA-IDLIB:

http://wikimapia.org/#lang=en&lat=35.319607&lon=36.653910&z=14&m=b

Syrian Army artillery savaged the bulldozer-built fortifications belonging to units of the Jaysh Al-‘Izza and the Turkestaan Party.  The revetments were completely destroyed, ironically, by the same kinds of rockets and bombs they were meant to prevent.  The area targeted was in the North of Hama at Lihaayaa and Al-Lataamina 35 kms north of Hama City, close to the Idlib Provincial border.  The SAA was positioned north of Hilfaayaa and Miharda.

______________________________________________

WILE E. COYOTE MOMENT: (Thanks, John Esq.)

https://twitter.com/Zionocracy/status/1026651167110127617/video/1

The Levant is now Russia’s stage of influence and operations – And the US knows it – By Elijah J. Magnier (ejmagnier.com) (SOTT)

russian mps undof golan

Russian forces with the UNDOF on the 1974 line with Israel.

Russian military police forces have established eight static positions along the 1974 disengagement line and have registered a strong presence with UNDOF observer forces on the occupied Golan Heights line. Moreover, a Russian force headed by a Russian General arrived, for the second time this year, at the Lebanese Hezbollah post at the Syrian-Lebanese borders at al-Jdeideh. The Russians wanted to establish communication equipment, dishes, and electronics in the same area controlled by Hezbollah. The Lebanese organisation maintains a substantial force in the area after defeating al-Qaeda and ISIS early this year. Hezbollah’s presence is said to be focused on preventing the smuggling of weapons and jihadist Takfiris between the two countries. It is clear that Russia is expanding its control, slowly but surely, over the Levant. However, it is still unclear how far the Russian President Vladimir Putin is ready to go.

High ranking sources operating in Syria confirmed to me that “a Russian General arrived with a unit at al-Jdeideh asking to establish a communication system and dishes connecting the Russian forces deployed in the area with a military base in Hmeymim and with Moscow, considered to be the centre of the entire Russian and Syria military operation since mid-2015. The Russian unit wanted to use Hezbollah’s location but was asked to choose another one much higher and further away. Following a quick inspection of the place, the Russian General accepted the offer and based his men at a distance from Hezbollah.”

According to these sources, there are tens of thousands of Russian troops spread all over Syria, with the exception of the north, occupied by Turkey and the US.

There is no doubt that Russia has reached an understanding with the US that the Levant has become its own operational stage and area of influence. This will lead to an expansion of Russian forces all over Syrian territory without exception. This also means that Moscow won’t accept the presence of al-Qaeda or “Hurras al-Deen” or whatever name the group hides behind, and therefore will work towards taking away the territory it is controlling to-date (even if eliminating the ideology is not possible.)

In the south, Syria’s allies (Hezbollah and Iran) have pulled back their troops because the reason for their presence has come to an end following the liberation of all borders and the elimination of ISIS in the Quneitra pocket. These forces have taken up another position facing ISIS in the east of Suweida province and in al-Badiya to eliminate the last ISIS presence in the area. The Idlib battle seems to have been halted to give the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan time to regroup his proxies and move al-Qaeda away from the territory he controls in north-east Syria.

The south of Syria has returned to the control of the Syrian government and only Syrian forces remain in Suweida, Daraa and Quneitra provinces, as was the case prior to 2011, the year the war on Syria began. The presence of Iranian advisors continues to be registered in every Syrian unit, offering advice and coordination with the central command and control in various provinces.

Russian forces are reaching distant territories in Syria, even areas that are not under threat. The Russian command does not consider Hezbollah an enemy force; on the contrary, as a Russian General told Hezbollah forces in al-Jdeideh: “You are our allies, we want to be next to you and we are not asking you to leave”.

This put the Hezbollah forces at ease and they asked their command for advice. Another location, not very far away from the one chosen by the General, was indicated to him. The General accepted the new location and based his men on higher ground to install his sophisticated equipment.

It is not clear if Russia will ever ask Hezbollah to leave Syria, or even to leave the Syrian-Lebanese borders. If Moscow does one day decide to take over the entire Syrian-Israeli dossier (securing a peace agreement and the return of occupied territory), it is most unlikely that such an audacious step will be successful. Israel is not ready for peace nor to give back the wealthy and strategic Golan Heights to Syria. This will limit Russian president’s freedom of action and confront him with the very complicated reality of the Middle Eastern dossier Russia has been absent from since 1990. Dealing with Hezbollah’s presence in Syria in the near future is most unlikely even if the Lebanese organisation has no intention of confronting Russia or nor of competing with Russia in the Levant.

Israel is not only unwilling to let go of the Syrian and Lebanese occupied territories but is even escalating its demands: During the Netanyahu-Lavrov meeting, Israel requested the withdrawal of all Iranian forces, the removal of all long range and accurate missiles from Syria, and the cessation of all weapon shipments from Syria to Lebanon-Hezbollah.

Russia can’t and won’t ask Iran to leave Syria because Tehran is a part of the strategic alliance with President Assad within the “Axis of Resistance.” Moreover, it can’t ask Syria to stop arming itself because it is the same Russia that is providing and equipping the Syrian army. It can’t ask Damascus to stop the transit of weapons through its territory either, because Syria and Hezbollah are tied by a very strong bond. Indeed, the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad opened his warehouses to Hezbollah when the Israelis attacked Lebanon in 2006, and the organisation rushed to support Assad in the war imposed on Syria in 2011.

Russia is also struggling with Israel’s continuous bombing and violations of Syrian air space. Moreover, Tel Aviv continues to say that it has the “right to defend itself” by bombing targets in Syria.

Even if the battle of Idlib has been postponed to allow Turkey to “cleanse” the city first from al-Qaeda, the battle against the vestiges of ISIS is ready and will aim to put an end to the group’s control of all territory, restoring it to Syrian army control. However, the final chapter of the war in the Middle East hasn’t yet been written. The balance in the Levant is bigger than Middle Eastern players now that Russia has decided to continue its heavy involvement in Syria. The presence of tens of thousands of Russian troops is the best witness to this. Russia will manage to push the US away from Syria, but this doesn’t mean it has become the only partner for Middle Eastern countries.

Proofreading by: Ollie Richardson @O_Rich_

If you read this reporting and you like it, please don’t feel embarrassed to contribute and help fund it for as little as 1 Euro. Your contribution, however small, will help ensure its continuity. Thank you.

About the Author

Veteran War Zone Correspondent and Senior Political Risk Analyst with over 35 years’ experience covering the Middle East and acquiring in-depth experience, robust contacts and political knowledge in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan and Syria. Specialised in terrorism and counter-terrorism, intelligence, political assessments, strategic planning and thorough insight in political networks in the region. Covered on the ground the Israeli invasion to Lebanon (1st war 1982), the Iraq-Iran war, the Lebanese civil war, the Gulf war (1991), the war in the former Yugoslavia (1992-1996), the US invasion to Iraq (2003 to date), the second war in Lebanon (2006), the war in Libya and Syria (2011 to date). Lived for many years in Lebanon, Bosnia, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Syria.

Israel’s policies in Gaza are genocidal – By Haidar Eid. (MONDOWEISS)

The 1948 Genocide Convention clearly states that one instance of genocide is “the deliberate infliction of conditions of life calculated to bring about the physical destruction of a people in whole or in part.” No matter whether this happens at a fast rate, or in “slow motion.” That is what has been done to Gaza since the imposition of the blockade by Israel, and the subsequent massacres which led to the death of more than 4000 Palestinians in three successive genocidal wars.

Palestinians of Gaza live an ongoing, illegal, crippling Israeli siege that has shattered all spheres of life, prompting the former UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights, Richard Falk, to describe it as “a prelude to genocide”. In 2009, the UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, headed by the highly respected South African judge, Richard Goldstone, found Israel guilty of “war crimes and possible crimes against humanity,” as did major international human rights organizations, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. The Goldstone report, for example, concludes that Israel’s war on Gaza was “designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population, radically diminish its local economic capacity both to work and to provide for itself, and to force upon it an ever increasing sense of dependency and vulnerability.”

The same scenario was repeated in 2012, and a worse one in 2014 only because Israel feels that it can carry on its war crimes with full impunity. And last week Israel has decided to tighten the siege by closing the only commercial crossing, even to increase its attacks by targeting peaceful protesters demanding the implementation of UN resolutions, and an end to this deadly, hermetic siege.

In her visit to Gaza, Professor Sara Roy, an expert on Gaza, describes the Strip as “a land ripped apart and scarred, the lives of its people blighted. Gaza is decaying under the weight of continued devastation, unable to function normally…” Professor Roy concludes that “[T]he decline and disablement of Gaza’s economy and society have been deliberate, the result of state policy–consciously planned, implemented and enforced… And just as Gaza’s demise has been consciously orchestrated, so have the obstacles preventing its recovery.” In addition to Israel’s daily attacks and air strikes, Gazans also suffer from the contamination of water, air and soil, since the sewage system is unable to function due to power cuts necessitated by lack of fuel to the main generators of the Gaza power grid. Medical conditions due to injuries from internationally prohibited butterfly bullets and other illegal Israeli weapons as well as from water contamination cannot be treated because of the siege. In addition to the ban on building materials, Israel also prevents many other necessities from being imported: lights bulbs, candles, matches, books, refrigerators, shoes, clothing, mattresses, sheets, blankets, tea, coffee, sausages, flour, cows, pasta, cigarettes, fuel, pencils, pens, paper… etc. In Gaza, people are wondering whether the current Israeli government, the most fascist in the county’s history, might even discuss a ban on Oxygen! Add to this the punitive measure taken by the PA, and the drastic cuts endorsed by UNRWA, not to mention the constant closure of the Rafah crossing–the only exit Gaza has to the external world– leading to one of the highest unemployment rates and poverty on the face of earth.

In fact, the conclusion Gazans have reached is that Israel is intent on destroying Gaza because world official bodies and leaders choose to say and do absolutely nothing. The brazen refusal of Israel to cooperate with the decision of the International Community to re-construct Gaza, for which several billions of dollars were pledged in Sharm El-Sheikh, should not be tolerated. Israel’s attacks have damaged or completely destroyed many public buildings and have according to the UN’s own Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports severely damaged or completely destroyed some thousands of family dwellings, schools, universities and factories. Many other Palestinians who have spent the past several winters and summers in tents and caravans have also been promised the means to rebuild homes and schools, though to date nothing has been done to alleviate their suffering.

The practice of wanton willful killing of civilians exemplified in the extra-judicial sniping of non-violent protesters at the eastern fence of the Gaza Strip is not an isolated incident. It is part and parcel of an ongoing, comprehensive policy targeting the civilian Palestinians of the Gaza strip and systematically denying them their rights to movement, work, medical care, study, livelihood and increasingly life itself. But it is also a reflection of the nature of the state of Israel.i. e., a settler-colony. Israel’s leading, anti-Zionist historian, Ilan Pappe,  sheds light  on the driving ideology behind this genocidal policy:

Zionism is, in essence, a settler colonial movement, which was interested in having as much of the land of Palestine with as few Palestinians on it as possible. As the late scholar of settler colonialism, Patrick Wolfe, has put it; the encounter between the settlers and the indigenous population triggered ‘the logic of the elimination of the native’. In some places, such as North America, annihilation was literally a genocide of the native; in Palestine it was a different kind of elimination, obtained through segregation, ethnic cleansing and enclavement

In spite of Israel’s alleged unilateral withdrawal from the Strip in 2005, it still maintains a permanent military presence in Gaza’s territorial waters and controls the movement of people and goods onto the strip by land and water in addition to movement within the strip through targeting anyone entering the “no go” zone designated by the Israeli military. Israel also continues to control Gaza’s population registry. Yet, Israel claims that it is no longer the occupying power in the Gaza strip and uses this excuse, in addition to the results of 2006 democratic elections, to intensify its policy of siege and lethal attacks on Gaza’s civilians.

And now, Israel has decided to become openly an apartheid state by legalizing racial discrimination. I have tried very hard to find out whether there are constitutions or laws in the world similar to Israel’s “new” Nation-State Basic Law which aims to establish a legal basis for Jewish supremacy and racism against indigenous Palestinians, including those living in what has become the largest open-air prison on earth; only South Africa under apartheid and America in the eras of slavery and segregation.

So, what to do?!

In a piece published in MEE, Gideon Levy asks “Israel, where is your outrage at the legislation of Apartheid?” Actually, we are not expecting a settler-colonial community to act against its own racism. The outside world has to intervene. Hence our call for #BDS. But, in Palestine, we are in urgent need of serious discussions about a program of radical political transformation, what with the disastrous failure of the existing programs, right and left, a program that divorces itself from the racist two-state solution, one that endorses a more inclusive program that guarantees the rights of all segments of the Palestinian people.

About Haidar Eid

Haidar Eid is Associate Professor of Postcolonial and Postmodern Literature at Gaza’s al-Aqsa University. He has written widely on the Arab-Israeli conflict, including articles published at Znet, Electronic Intifada, Palestine Chronicle, and Open Democracy. He has published papers on cultural Studies and literature in a number of journals, including Nebula, Journal of American Studies in Turkey, Cultural Logic, and the Journal of Comparative Literature.

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AngloZionist attack options against Iran – By THE SAKER – [This analysis was written for the Unz Review]

 

[This analysis was written for the Unz Review]

In the past few days, the Internet has been flooded with a frankly silly rumor about the US soliciting Australia’s assistance in preparing an attack on Iran.  Needless to say, that report does not explain what capabilities Australia would possess which the USA would lack, but never-mind that.  Still, the report was picked up in too many places (see here, here and here ) to be ignored.  In one of these reports, Eric Margolis has described what such a US attack could look like.  It is worth quoting him in full:

Outline of a possible AngloZionist attack on Iran

The US and Israel will surely avoid a massive, costly land campaign again Iran, a vast, mountainous nation that was willing to suffer a million battle casualties in its eight-year war with Iraq that started in 1980. This gruesome war was instigated by the US, Britain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to overthrow Iran’s new popular Islamic government.

The Pentagon has planned a high-intensity air war against Iran that Israel and the Saudis might very well join. The plan calls for over 2,300 air strikes against Iranian strategic targets: airfields and naval bases, arms and petroleum, oil and lubricant depots, telecommunication nodes, radar, factories, military headquarters, ports, waterworks, airports, missile bases and units of the Revolutionary Guards.

Iran’s air defenses range from feeble to non-existent. Decades of US-led military and commercial embargos against Iran have left it as decrepit and enfeebled as was Iraq when the US invaded in 2003. The gun barrels of Iran’s 70’s vintage tanks are warped and can’t shoot straight, its old British and Soviet AA missiles are mostly unusable, and its ancient MiG and Chinese fighters ready for the museum, notably its antique US-built F-14 Tomcats, Chinese copies of obsolete MiG-21’s, and a handful of barely working F-4 Phantoms of Vietnam War vintage.

Air combat command is no better. Everything electronic that Iran has will be fried or blown up in the first hours of a US attack. Iran’s little navy will be sunk in the opening attacks. Its oil industry may be destroyed or partially preserved depending on US post-war plans for Iran.

The only way Tehran can riposte is by staging isolated commando attacks on US installations in the Mideast of no decisive value, and, of course, blocking the narrow Strait of Hormuz that carries two-thirds of Mideast oil exports. The US Navy, based nearby in Bahrain, has been practicing for decades to combat this threat.

There is a lot of interesting material in this description and I think that it is worth looking into it segment by segment.

First, I can only agree with Margolis that neither the USA nor Israel want a ground war against Iran: the country is too big, the Iranians too well prepared and the size of the force needed for such a campaign way beyond what the Empire can currently muster.

Second, Margolis is absolutely correct when he says that Iran does not have the means to stop a determined AngloZionist (missiles and aircraft) attack. Iran does have some modern air-defense capabilities, and the attackers will sustain a number of losses, but at this point, the size disparity is so huge that the AngloZionists will achieve air superiority fairly soon and that will give them an opportunity to bomb whatever they want to bomb (more about that later).

[Sidebar: assessing Iranian air defenses is not just a matter of counting missiles and launchers, however, and there is much more to this.  According to one Russian source Iran has 4 long range anti-aircraft missile S-300PMU-2 systems (with 48Н6Е2 Mach 6,6 interceptor missiles), 29 military anti-aircraft self-propelled missile complexes Tor-M1, some fairly advanced anti-aircraft missile complexes like the Bavar-373, a passive electronically scanned array radar (whose illumination and guidance system almost certainly includes modern Chinese electronics) and an impressive number of radar systems early warning radar of the Russian, Chinese and Iranian manufacture.   This category includes systems like the high-potential long-range radar detection and target designation Najm-802 radar (has 5120 receiving and transmitting modules, operates in the decimeter S-range and is designed to detect ballistic targets and small elements of high-precision weapons), the Russian meter radar “Nebo-SVU” advanced early warning and control system with a fixed-array radar, as well as a meter range early warning radar of the type “Ghadir” .  Most importantly, these radars are all integrated into the network-centric missile defense system of Iran. For example, the “Ghadir” radar is able to detect not only the tactical fighters of the USAF, the KSA and Israel, but also ballistic missiles immediately after launch (at a distance of about 1100 km). As a result, the presence of Iranian radio engineering units of multi-band radar detection facilities in the Western direction (the Persian Gulf) will allow the Iranians to prepare a flexible echeloned air defense to defend against high-intensity missile strikes.  And yet, no matter how much the Iranians have improved their air defenses, the sheer number of of missiles (including the new advanced AGM-158 JASSM (Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile) low observable standoff air-launched cruise missile delivered by B-1B bombers) means that the Iranian defenses will inevitably be overwhelmed by any massive attack.]

I therefore also agree with Margolis that the Iranian oil industry cannot be protected from a determined US/Israeli attack.  In fact, the entire Iranian infrastructure is vulnerable to attack.

Margolis’ final paragraph, however, makes it sound like Iran does not have credible retaliatory options and that I very much disagree with.

Example one: Iranian capabilities in the Strait of Hormuz

For one thing, the issue of the Strait of Hormuz is much more complicated than just “the US Navy has practiced for years to combat this threat“.  The reality is that Iran has a very wide range of options to make shipping through this strait practically impossible.  These options range from underwater mines, to fast craft attacks, to anti-shipping missiles, to coastal artillery strikes, etc.

[Sidebar: Therein also lies a big danger: the Israelis and or the US could very easily organize a false flag attack on any ship in the Strait of Hormuz, then accuse Iran, there would be the usual “highly likely” buzzword from all the AngloZionst intelligence agencies and, voilà, the Empire would have a pretext to attack Iran.]

In fact, the mere fact of issuing a threat to shipping through this narrow body of water might well deter insurances from providing coverage to any ships and that might stop the shipping all by itself.  Should that not be enough, Iran can always lay even a limited amount of mines, and that will be enough (please keep in mind that while the USN could try to engage in mineclearing operations, to do so right off the coast of Iran would expose USN minesweepers to an extreme danger of attack).

Margolis does mention this issue when he writes:

While Iran may be able to interdict some oil exports from the Arab states and cause maritime insurance rates to skyrocket, it’s unlikely to be able to block the bulk of oil exports unless it attacks the main oil terminals in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf with ground troops. During the Iran-Iraq war, neither side was able to fully interdict the other’s oil exports.

However, I believe that grossly under-estimates the Iranian capabilities in this context.  Let’s take one example, the Iranian submarine force.

The Iranian submarine force is a highly specialized one.  According to the 2018 Edition of the IISS’s Military Balance, the Iranians currently have 21 submarines deployed:

  • 3 Taregh-class diesel-electric submarine  (Russian Kilo-class Project-877EKM)
  • 1 Fateh-class coastal submarine
  • 16 Ghadir-class midget submarines
  • 1 Nahand-class midget submarine

When most people hear “diesel-electric,” they think of old diesel trucks, and are not impressed, especially when these are contrasted with putatively “advanced” nuclear attack submarines. This is, however, a very mistaken opinion because submarines can only to be assessed in the environment they are designed to operate in. Naval geography is typically roughly divided into three types: blue water (open ocean), green water (continental shelves) and brown water (coastal regions). Nuclear attack submarines are only superior in the blue water environment where autonomy, speed, diving depth, weapon storage capacity, advanced sonars, etc. are crucial. In comparison, while diesel-electric submarines are slower, need to resurface to recharge their batteries and are typically smaller and with fewer weapons onboard, they are also much better suited for green water operations. In shallow brown water, midget submarines reign, if only because nuclear attack submarines were never designed to operate in such an environment. Now take a quick look at the kind of environment the Strait of Hormuz constitutes:

 

Notice the interesting combination of very shallow and shallow depth typical of brown water and then the green water type of environment when going further into the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea.  With this in mind, let’s see what kind of submarine force Iran has acquired/developed:

For brown water operations (Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz) Iran has a relatively large and capable fleet of midget submarines. For green water operations (the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea), Iran has three formidable Taregh/Kilo-class submarines (which are even capable of limited blue water operations, though with much less autonomy, speed, armament or sonar than a nuclear attack submarine).  Just like “diesel-electric”, the term “midget” submarine makes it sound that we are talking about a toy or, at best, some primitive third world hack which, at best, could be used to smuggle drugs. In reality, however, the Iranian “midgets” can carry the same heavyweight torpedoes (533 mm) as the Kilos, only in smaller quantities. This also means that they can carry the same missiles and mines. In fact, I would argue that Iranian Ghadir-class “midget” submarines represent a much more formidable threat in the Persian Gulf than even the most advanced nuclear attack submarines could.

[Sidebar: the USA has stopped producing diesel-electric submarines many years ago because it believed that being a hegemonic power with a typical (aircraft carrier-centric) blue water navy it had no need for green or brown water capabilities. Other countries (such as Russia, Germany, Sweden and others) actively pursued a diesel-electric submarine program (including so-called “air-independent propulsion” – AIP – ones) because they correctly understood that these submarines are much cheaper while being also much better suited for coastal defensive operations.  Ditching diesel-electric submarines was yet another major mistake by US force planners; see this article on this topic.  The new Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and the Zumwalt-class guided missile destroyer were supposed to partially palliate to this lack of green and brown capabilities, but both turned out to be a disaster]

The Russian Kilo-class submarines are some of the most silent yet heavily armed submarines ever built, and they could potentially represent a major threat to any US naval operations against Iran.  However, we can be pretty sure that the USN tracks them 24/7 and that the Kilos would become a prime target (whether in port or at sea) at the very beginning of any AngloZionist attack. But would the USN also be capable of keeping track of the much smaller (and numerous) Iranian midget submarines? Your guess is as good as mine, but I personally very much doubt that, if only because these relatively small subs are very easy to hide. Just take a look at this photo of a Ghadir-class submarine and imagine how easy it would be to hide them or, alternatively, create decoy looking just like the real thing. Yet this midget submarine’s torpedoes could sink any vessel in the Persian Gulf with a single torpedo.

While the US definitely has a lot of very capable reconnaissance and intelligence capabilities available to try to locate and then destroy these threats, we also know that the Iranians have had decades to prepare for this scenario and that they are truly masters at what is called maskirovka in Russian military terminology: a combination of camouflage, concealment, deception, and misdirection. In fact, the Iranians are the ones who trained Hezbollah in Lebanon in this art and we all know what happened to the Israelis when they confidently waltzed into southern Lebanon only to find out that for all their reconnaissance/intelligence capabilities they were unable to deal with even a relatively primitive (technologically speaking) Hezbollah missile capability. For all the patriotic flag-waving, the truth is that if the Iranians decide to block the Strait of Hormuz the only option left for the US will be to land a force on the Iranian shore and engage in a limited but still extremely dangerous offensive land-attack operation. At this point, whether this counter-attack is successful or not will be irrelevant, as there will be so much combat activity in this narrow bottleneck that nobody will even consider to bring ships through it.

I also believe that Margolis is wrong when he writes that all Iran could do would be to stage “isolated commando attacks on US installations in the Mideast of no decisive value“.  One very real Iranian option would be to strike US targets (of which there are plenty in the Middle-East) with various missiles.  Furthermore, Iran can also launch missiles at US allies (Israel or the KSA) and interests (Saudi oil fields).

Example two: Iranian missile capabilities

I would not trust everything the CSIS writes (they are a very biased source, to put it mildly), but on this page, they posted a pretty good summary of the current Iranian missile capability:

On the same page, CSIS also offers a more detailed list of current and developed Iranian missiles:

(You can also check on this Wikipedia page to compare with the CSIS info on Iranian missiles)

The big question is not whether Iran has capable missiles, but how many exactly are deployed.  Nobody really knows this because the Iranians are deliberately being very vague, and for obvious and very good reasons.  However, judging by the example of Hezbollah, we can be pretty sure that the Iranians also have these missiles in large enough numbers to represent a very credible deterrent capability.  I would even argue that such a missile force not only represents a capable deterrent capability, but also a very useful war-fighting one.  Can you imagine what would happen if US bases (especially airbases and naval facilities) in the region came under periodic Iranian missile attacks?  Judging by the Israeli experience during the First Gulf War or, for that matter, the recent Saudi experience with the Houthi missiles, we can be pretty sure that the US Patriots will be useless to defend against Iranian missiles.

Oh sure, just like the US did during the First Gulf War, and the Israelis did in 2006, the AngloZionists will start a massive hunt for Iranian missile sites, but judging by all the recent wars, these hunts will not be successful enough and the Iranians will be able to sustain missile strikes for quite a long time.   Just imagine what one missile strike, say, every 2-3 days on a US base in the region would do to operations or morale!

Reality check: the US is vulnerable throughout the entire Middle-East

Above I only listed two specific capabilities (subs and missiles), but the same type of analysis could be made with Iranian small speedboat swarms, electronic warfare capabilities or even cyber-warfare.  But the most formidable asset the Iranians have is a very sophisticated and educated population which has had decades to prepare for an attack by the “Great Satan” and which have clearly developed an array of asymmetrical options to defend themselves and their country against the (probably inevitable) AngloZionist attack.

You have probably seen at least one map showing US military installations in the Middle-East (if not, see here, here or here).  Truth be told, the fact that Iran is surrounded by US forces and bases presents a major threat to Iran.  But the opposite is also true. All these US military facilities are targets, often very vulnerable ones.  Furthermore, Iran can also use proxies/allies in the region to attack any of these targets.  I highly recommend that you download this factsheet and read it while thinking of the potential of each listed facility to become the target of an Iranian attack.

The usual answer which I often hear to these arguments is that if the Iranians actually dared to use missiles or strike at the US bases in the region, the retaliation by the USA would be absolutely terrible.  However, according to Eric Margolis, the initial and main goal of a US-Israeli attack on Iran would be to “totally destroy Iran’s infrastructure, communications and transport (including oil) crippling this important nation of 80 million and taking it back to the pre-revolutionary era“.  Now let me ask you this simple question: if Margolis is correct – and I personally believe that he is – then how would that outcome be different from the “absolutely terrible” retaliation supposedly planned by the USA in case of Iranian counterattack?  Put differently – if the Iranians realize that the AngloZionists want to lay waste to their country (say, like what the Israelis did to Lebanon in 2006), what further possible escalation would further deter them from counter-attacking with the means available to them?

To answer this question we need to look again at the real nature of the “Iranian problem” for the AngloZionists.

Real AngloZionist objectives for an attack on Iran

First and foremost, there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that Iran has any kind of military nuclear program.  The fact that the Israelis have for years been screaming about this urbi et orbi does not make it true.  I would also add that common sense strongly suggests that the Iranians would have absolutely no logical reason to develop any kind of nuclear weapons.  I don’t have the time and space to argue this point again (I have done so many times in the past), so I will simply refer to the US National Intelligence Estimate’s conclusion that Iran had “halted its nuclear weapons program” and leave it at that.

[Sidebar: I don’t believe that the Iranians ever had a nuclear weapons program either, but that is irrelevant: even if they once had one, that would put them on par with many other countries which took some initial steps in the development of such a capability and then gave it up.  The only point is that it is the official US position that there is no current military nuclear program in Iran.]

The real problem of Iran is very simple.  Iran is the only country in the world which is:

  1. Islamic and leads the struggle against the Saudi/Daesh/ISIS/al-Qaeda/etc. ideology of takfirism and the terrorism they promote
  2. Openly anti-Zionist and anti-Imperialist and combines conservative religious values with progressive social policies
  3. Successful politically, economically and militarily and thereby threatens the monopoly of power of Israel in the region

Any one of those features by itself would already constitute a grievous case of crimethink from the point of view of the Empire and would fully deserve a reaction of absolute hatred, fear and a grim determination to eliminate the government and people which dare to support it.  No wonder that by combining all three Iran is so hated by the AngloZionists.

This entire canard about some Iranian nuclear a program is just a pretext for a hate campaign and a possible attack on Iran.  But in reality, the goals of the AngloZionists is not to disarm Iran, but exactly as Margolis says: to bomb this “disobedient” country and people “back to the pre-revolutionary era”.

Here is the key thing: the Iranians perfectly understand that. The obvious conclusion is this: if the purpose of an AngloZionist attack will be to bomb Iran back into the pre-revolutionary era, then why would the Iranians hold back and not offer the maximal resistance possible?

Because of the threat of a US nuclear retaliation?

US nuclear attack options – not much of an option in reality

Here again, we need to look at the context, not just assume that the use of nuclear weapons is some kind of magical panacea which immediately forces the enemy to give up the fight and to unconditionally surrender. This is far from being the truth.

First, nuclear weapons are only effective when used against a lucrative target.  Just murdering civilians like what the USA did in Japan does absolutely no good if your goal is to defeat your opponent’s armed forces.  If anything, nuking your opponents “value” targets will might only increase his determination to fight to the end.  I have no doubt that, just as during the first Gulf War, the USA has already made a typical list of targets it would want to strike in Iran: a mix of key government buildings and installations and a number of military units and facilities.  However, in most cases, those could also be destroyed by conventional (non-nuclear) weapons.  Furthermore, since the Iranians have had decades to prepare for this scenario (the USA has always had Iran in its sights since the 1979 Revolution), you can be quite sure that all the peacetime facilities have been duplicated for wartime situations. Thus while many high-visibility targets will be destroyed, their wartime counterparts will immediately take over.  One might think that nukes could be used to destroy deeply buried targets, and this is partially true, but some targets are buried too deep to be destroyed (even by a nuclear blast) while others are duplicated several times (say, for 1 peacetime military headquarters there would be 4, 5 or even 6 concealed and deeply buried ones).  To go after each one of them would require using even more nukes and that begs the question of the political costs of such a campaign of nuclear strikes.

In political terms, the day the USA uses a nuclear weapon against any enemy it will have committed a political suicide from which the Hegemony will never recover. While a majority of US Americans might consider that “might makes right” and “screw the UN”, for the rest of the world the first use of nuclear weapons (as opposed to a retaliatory counter-strike) is an unthinkable abomination and crime, especially for an illegal act of aggression (there is no way the UNSC will authorize a US attack on Iran). Even if the White House declares that it “had to” use nukes to “protect the world” against the “nuclear armed Ayatollah”, the vast majority of the planet will react with total outrage (especially after the Iraqi WMD canard!). Furthermore, any US nuclear strike will instantly turn the Iranians from villains into victims. Why would the US decide to pay such an exorbitant political price just to use nuclear weapons on targets which would not yield any substantial advantage for the US? Under normal circumstances, I would think that this kind of unprovoked use of nuclear weapons would be quite unthinkable and illogical. However, in the current political context in the USA, there is one possibility which really frightens me.

Trump as the “disposable President” for the Neocons?

The Neocons hate Trump, but they also own him.  The best example of this kind of “ownership” is the US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem which was an incredibly stupid act, but one which the Israel Lobby demanded.  The same goes for the US reneging on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or, for that matter, the current stream of threats against Iran.  It appears that the Neocons have a basic strategy which goes like this: “we hate Trump and everything he represents, but we also control him; let’s use him to do all the crazy stuff no sane US President would ever do, and then let’s use the fallout of these crazy decisions and blame it all on Trump; this way we get all that we want and we get to destroy Trump in the process only to replace him with one of “our guys” when the time is right“.   Again, the real goal of an attack on Iran would be to bomb Iran back into a pre-revolutionary era and to punish the Iranian people for supporting the “wrong” regime thus daring to defy the AngloZionist Empire.  The Neocons could use Trump as a “disposable President” who could be blamed for the ensuing chaos and political disaster while accomplishing one of the most important political objectives of Israel: laying waste to Iran.  For the Neocons, this is a win-win situation: if things go well (however unlikely that is), they can take all the credit and still control Trump like a puppet, and if things don’t go well, Iran is in ruins, Trump is blamed for  a stupid and crazy war, and the Clinton gang will be poised to come back to power.

The biggest loser in such a scenario would, of course, be the people of Iran. But the US military will not fare well either. For one thing, a plan to just “lay waste” to Iran has no viable exit strategy, especially not a short-term one, while the US military has no stomach for long conflicts (Afghanistan and Iraq are bad enough). Furthermore, once the USA destroys most of what can be destroyed the initiative will be in the Iranians’ hands and time will be on their side. In 2006 the Israelis had to fold after 33 days only, how much time will the US need before having to declare victory and leave? If the war spreads to, say, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Syria, then will the US even have the option to just leave? What about the Israelis – what options will they have once missiles start hitting them (not only Iranian missiles but probably also Hezbollah missiles from Lebanon!)?

Former Mossad head Meir Dagan was fully correct when he stated that a military attack on Iran was “the stupidest thing I have ever heard”.  Alas, the Neocons have never been too bright, and stupid stuff is what they mostly do.  All we can hope for is that somebody in the USA will find a way to stop them and avert another immoral, bloody, useless and potentially very dangerous war.

The Saker

Russia taking steps to prepare for “perfect storm” in global economy – By Aleksandr Rodgers (Stalkerzone) (SOTT)

Andrey Kostin and Putin

Head of VTB Andrey Kostin meets with Putin to discuss Russia’s economic resilience

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard

In recent months Russia, as some claim, “strenuously prepared for Putin’s meeting with Trump”. What does this mean?

Firstly, in April the Central Bank of the Russian Federation dumped nearly a half of US Treasuries that it had on its balance, having reduced their stock from $96.2 billion to $48.7 billion.

In May the Central Bank continued to do this, having reduced the quantity of treasuries on its balance even more.

Certain news agencies only emphasised that Russia dropped out of the list of the largest holders of treasuries, having noted that this “is less than $30 billion”. They use students in these news agencies, and as a result such “news” appears.

Having read the full report of US Department of the Treasury, it is easy to see that the size of the Russian investments in treasuries was reduced to $14.9 billion.

I.e., more than sixfold in two months. But there still isn’t any data for June…

Secondly, some observers noticed that against this background the Central Bank of the Russian Federation continued to increase its gold reserves.

gold reserves

Since the Central Bank shows in its report the amount of gold in the dollar equivalent, we will have to convert it at the rate of the corresponding number.

  • On April 1st 80482/1340 = 60,061 million ounces.
  • On May 1st 81146/1315 = 61,707 million ounces.
  • On June 1st 80511/1301 = 61,884 million ounces.

As we see, the amount of gold indeed steadily grows.

Some were stupid enough to be indignant because the Central Bank buys gold while it goes down in price. On the one hand, if it bought it at the top peak of the price, then it would be worse. On the other hand, it is possible to assume that in the near future certain events are expected that can significantly raise the price of gold.

If we work like system analysts, then we need to coordinate at least two more facts with the aforementioned.

Thirdly, the majority of Russian state corporations and a number of banks and companies with State capital switched (or are in the process of switching) to the Russian System for the transfer of financial messages of the Bank of Russia (SPFS), which actually means abandoning SWIFT.

Very recently, in June, “Gazprom Neft” also tested a transition to SPFS.

As was stated in the press release: “The use of a sole system that all Russian credit organisations are connected to instead of many local bank clients allows to considerably increase the speed, reliability, and security of carrying out financial operations and to optimise expenses”.

And fourthly, the head of “VTB” Andrey Kostin met with Putin the other day and presented to him a report on the activity of the bank. During the meeting Kostin, in particular, said two things:

“1. Since the beginning of this year, people seem to be less interested in making dollar deposits or taking out dollar loans, compared to ruble-denominated deposits and loans. We believe this to be an important step towards the de-dollarisation of the Russian finance sector.

2. VTB experts have drafted a package of proposals designed to further promote the ruble in international settlements and thus develop the Russian market for floating Eurobonds, shares and creating other derivatives that are now used only in the West. I think that we need to create our own financial tools. This would serve as an additional safeguard for the Russian financial sector against external shocks, and would give a new impetus to its development”.

As we can see, both State corporations, and State banks are actively preparing for the de-dollarisation of economy (or, if to be more exact, carrying it out with confidence) and possible problems from SWIFT, and also increase the self-sufficiency of all systems (communication, payment, and so on).

I think that if there is the desire, then it is possible to significantly add to the provided list of measures. Russia consistently and surely dumps the dollar (and, quite possibly, prepares for the “perfect storm” in the global economy that was predicted long ago), and today none of Trump’s words or actions can change these aspirations.

Because no Trump is able to stop the impending storm.

Comment: The sad truth of the matter is that no matter how much effort Trump puts into strengthening the US economy, its strength is much like a house of cards – with multiple structural weaknesses that have existed for going on many years now. Leaders like Putin, Xi, Rouhani etc. understand this and are actively working to make their countries resilient in the face of what will likely be a very large downturn in the world economy, and the value of the dollar in particular.

LA GUERRE EST FINIE; ISIS ANNIHILATED IN SYRIA AS TERRORISTS SEEK TO RETURN TO EUROPE – By ZIAD FADEL

With the war in Syria now a vanishing memory, the Syrian Army turns its attention to the north where rodents have recently formed a new front excluding Hay’at Tahreer Al-Shaam (HTS).  Needless to say, Jaysh Al-Islam, the Saudi funded terrorist group that fancied itself some kind of conventional army has been eradicated.  Muhammad ‘Alloosh is reportedly in Turkey or Saudi Arabia wolfing down Alka Seltzer tablets.  He has already been condemned to death and faces a noose the instant he tries to enter Syria.  This new front is primarily made up of the Noor-Al-Deen Al-Zangi group some (which is renowned for its “moderate character” as it beheaded a 12 year-old Palestinian boy in front of cameras) along with a mish-mash of other criminals.  I am told that the individual rodent who beheaded the boy is wanted by the PFLP-GC dead or alive, preferably the former.  If he is taken alive, as the great British director, Ken Russell, once wrote:  “Hell will hold no surprises for him”.

As I reported before, the Kurds are deeply suspicious of American intentions and do not have the desire to repeat historic disasters.  Ghassan Kadi’s article, listed below, is in basic agreement with this proposition.  It is fair to say that even the Kurd issue has been resolved through negotiation – a much more civilized way to resolve conflict.  However, the Syrian government is insisting on Kurdish disarmament, an issue that may encounter some stumbling blocks.

At Al-Qaseer in the Golan, ISIS has been routed from its last stronghold by the Syrian Army.  ISIS terrorists have been monitored looking for ways out of the Middle East, most heading back to Europe or, even, Bangla Desh.  With Angela Merkel in office, we can expect Germany to turn into another Afghanistan if she is given the authority to open European doors to the fleeing rodents.

I have a close relative in Syria who tells me everything is returning to normal.  While there is some fear that the terrorists holed up in Idlib might target Latakia, the Russians have relayed Turk assurances that such a scenario is not going to take place.  Of course, Erdoghan is treacherous and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.  We cannot sit rest assured he won’t renege on his promises.

Tens of thousands of Syrian refugees are returning home.  The news is that the amnesty program is working and is taken seriously by the government.  That is, unless you have a known history of killing Syrian soldiers or security men who were taken hostage.  Those individuals, their hands bloodied, are winding up in European capitals, Canada or the United States.  Applications for refugee status are indicators of an unwillingness to return to Syria out of fear of arrest and trial.  Individuals, such as those in Lebanon are returning without any fear.

Since the Russians have taken a negative attitude toward the liberation of Idlib, we will start to concentrate on that particular issue in future posts.  I will not be reporting on SAA assaults in the East for the reason that these pockets of cockroaches are doomed either because of the elements or their own psychological depression.  The terrorists at Al-Tanf are expected to surrender the moment the U.S. pulls out before the end of the year.  Some may try to move to Jordan, but, the majority will probably melt into the general population – or so they think.  There is a suggestion by some that Jordan will pick up where the U.S. left off at Al-Tanf with Saudis picking up the tab.

NEWS AND COMMENT:

The Western tune has changed indeed.  Read how the liars lick their collective wounds:

https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/07/23/the-syrian-war-is-over-and-america-lost/

Note how articles like this one are winding up in the public domain.  This makes the NYT grimace:

http://thefederalist.com/2018/08/01/trump-ignore-failed-dc-establishment-get-u-s-troops-syria/

Ghassan Kadi discusses the Kurdish situation with Sputnik:  Thanks, Intibah:

https://sputniknews.com/analysis/201808031066917418-syria-kurds-thaw/

Noam Chomsky: Russia is not influencing US elections, but Israel definitely is – By John Vibes (The Free Thought Project) (SOTT)

 

John Vibes
The Free Thought Project
Tue, 31 Jul 2018 00:00 UTC

Noam Chomsky

© thefreethoughtproject.com
Noam Chomsky

World-renowned author and lecturer Noam Chomsky pointed out in a recent interview that Israel has actually had far more influence in the United States political system than Russia ever has, in the wake of mass media hysteria about alleged “collusion” in the 2016 election.

In an interview with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, Chomsky said:

So, take, say, the huge issue of interference in our pristine elections. Did the Russians interfere in our elections? An issue of overwhelming concern in the media. I mean, in most of the world, that’s almost a joke. First of all, if you’re interested in foreign interference in our elections, whatever the Russians may have done barely counts or weighs in the balance as compared with what another state does, openly, brazenly and with enormous support. Israeli intervention in U.S. elections vastly overwhelms anything the Russians may have done, I mean, even to the point where the prime minister of Israel, Netanyahu, goes directly to Congress, without even informing the president, and speaks to Congress, with overwhelming applause, to try to undermine the president’s policies – what happened with Obama and Netanyahu in 2015. Did Putin come to give an address to the joint sessions of Congress trying to – calling on them to reverse U.S. policy, without even informing the president? And that’s just a tiny bit of this overwhelming influence. So if you happen to be interested in influence of – foreign influence on elections, there are places to look. But even that is a joke.

Chomsky went on to point out that:

That’s only one part of it. Lobbyists practically write legislation in congressional offices. In massive ways the concentrated private capital, corporate russector, super wealth, intervene in our elections, massively, overwhelmingly, to the extent that the most elementary principles of democracy are undermined. Now, of course, all that is technically legal, but that tells you something about the way the society functions. So, if you’re concerned with our elections and how they operate and how they relate to what would happen in a democratic society, taking a look at Russian hacking is absolutely the wrong place to look. Well, you see occasionally some attention to these matters in the media, but very minor as compared with the extremely marginal question of Russian hacking.

Chomsky is one of the few intellectuals in the public eye who can get away with being so critical of Israel, because he has Jewish heritage, despite being non-religious. It is common for anyone critical of Israel’s policies to be labeled as an anti-semitic.

Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters, another outspoken critic of Israel, said in a 2016 interview that anyone who speaks out about the apartheid state is labeled as anti-semitic.

“The only response to BDS is that it is anti-Semitic, I know this because I have been accused of being a Nazi and an anti-Semite for the past 10 years. My industry has been particularly recalcitrant in even raising a voice [against Israel]. There’s me and Elvis Costello, Brian Eno, Manic Street Preachers, one or two others, but there’s nobody in the United States where I live. I’ve talked to a lot of them, and they are scared s***less….” he said.

“If they say something in public they will no longer have a career. They will be destroyed. I’m hoping to encourage some of them to stop being frightened and to stand up and be counted because we need them. We need them desperately in this conversation in the same way we needed musicians to join protesters over Vietnam,” Waters added.

In recent years, as the horror that the Israeli government unleashes upon the prisoners of Palestine has been exposed, global public opinion is finally beginning to shift against the apartheid state. In response, the governments in the U.S. and Israel have both been forcing legislation to keep a lid on the genocide that is taking place.

Last month, The Free Thought Project reported that South Carolina passed a law to legally define criticism of Israel as “anti-Semitism,” showing a concerted effort to stifle criticism of a government that is indiscriminately killing innocent people, and keeping an entire population in poverty and constant terror.

As The Free Thought Project also reported, 41 other members of Congress came together to champion proposed legislation in July 2017 that would

“make literal criminals of any Americans boycotting Israel – a brazen, if not explicit, attack on the BDS Movement, incidentally exploding in popularity worldwide as the belligerent nation continues its occupation of Palestinian lands.”

Governments are not alone in this suppression of information either, tech corporations that now control the media narrative are also taking efforts to prevent people from seeing the true face of the Israeli military. YouTube has been engaging in censorship of Israeli war crimes, as journalist Abby Martin called attention to earlier this year when a video that she made about the violence in Israel was flagged as “hate speech” and blocked by YouTube in 28 countries.

Journalist Max Blumenthal, who was featured in the interview, suggested that pro-Israel lobbyists have major tech companies on their payroll:

“My comments were based entirely on my extensive journalistic experience in the region and my analysis was clinical in nature. At no point did I denigrate anyone based on their faith or ethnicity. The trend of censoring material that presents Israel in a less than favorable light has only intensified as establishment attacks on critical voices expands. This latest episode confirms my view that the pro-Israel lobby and its willing accomplices in Silicon Valley present one of the greatest threats to free speech in the West.”

Despite the best efforts of the Israeli government and their NATO allies, the world is beginning to wake up to the struggle of the Palestinian people. Even the United Nations is taking a new interest in the situation, with the recent announcement of a war crimes investigation of the Israeli government’s actions.

How BRICS Plus clashes with the US economic war on Iran = By Pepe ESCOBAR (THE SAKER)

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by Pepe Escobar (cross-posted with the Asia Times by special agreement with the author)

Rhetorical war has far-reaching consequences, including a potential economic slump via the disruption of global oil supplies

The key take away from the BRICS summit in Johannesburg is that Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – important Global South players – strongly condemn unilateralism and protectionism.

The Johannesburg Declaration is unmistakable: “We recognize that the multilateral trading system is facing unprecedented challenges. We underscore the importance of an open world economy.”

Closer examination of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s speech unlocks some poignant details.

Xi, crucially, emphasizes delving further into “our strategic partnership.” That implies increased BRICS and Beyond BRICS multilateral trade, investment and economic and financial connectivity.

And that also implies reaching to the next level; “It is important that we continue to pursue innovation-driven development and build the BRICS Partnership on New Industrial Revolution (PartNIR) to strengthen coordination on macroeconomic policies, find more complementarities in our development strategies, and reinforce the competitiveness of the BRICS countries, emerging market economies and developing countries.”

If PartNIR sounds like the basis for an overall Global South platform, that’s because it is.

In a not too veiled allusion to the Trump administration’s unilateral pullout from the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA), Xi called all parties to “abide by international law and basic norms governing international relations and to settle disputes through dialogue and differences through consultation,” adding that the BRICS are inevitably working for “a new type of international relations.”

Relations such as these certainly do not include a superpower unilaterally imposing an energy export blockade – an act of economic war – on an emerging market and key actor of the Global South.

Xi is keen to extol a “network of closer partnerships.” That’s where the concept of BRICS Plus fits in. China coined BRICS Plus last year at the Xiamen summit, it refers to closer integration between the five BRICS members and other emerging markets/developing nations.

Argentina, Turkey and Jamaica are guests of honor in Johannesburg. Xi sees BRICS Plus interacting with the UN, the G20 “and other frameworks” to amplify the margin of maneuver not only of emerging markets but the whole Global South. 

So how does Iran fit into this framework?

An absurd game of chicken

Immediately after President Trump’s Tweet of Mass Destruction the rhetorical war between Washington and Tehran has skyrocketed to extremely dangerous levels.

Major General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Quds Force – and a true rock star in Iran – issued a blistering response to Trump: “You may begin the war, but it is us who will end it.”

The IRGC yields massive economic power in Iran and is in total symbiosis with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. It’s no secret the IRGC never trusted President Rouhani’s strategy of relying on the JCPOA as the path to improve Iran’s economy. After the unilateral Trump administration pullout, the IRGC feels totally vindicated.

The mere threat of a US attack on Iran has engineered a rise in oil prices. US reliance on Middle East Oil is going down while fracking – boosted by higher prices – is ramping up. The threat of war increases with Tehran now overtly referring to its power to cripple global energy supplies literally overnight.

In parallel the Houthis, by forcing the Yemen-bombing House of Saud to stop oil shipments via the Bab al-Mandeb port, are configuring the Strait of Hormuz and scores of easily targeted pipelines as even more crucial to the flow of energy that makes the West tick. 

If there ever was a US attack on Iran, Persian Gulf analysts stress only Russia, Nigeria and Venezuela might be able to provide enough oil and gas to make up for lost supplies to the West. That’s not exactly what the Trump administration is looking for.

Iranian “nuclear weapons” was always a bogus issue. Tehran did not have them – and was not pursuing them. Yet now the highly volatile rhetorical war introduces the hair-raising possibility of Tehran perceiving there is a clear danger of a US nuclear attack or an attack whose purpose is to destroy the nation’s infrastructure. If cornered, there’s no question the IRGC would buy nuclear weapons on the black market and use them to defend the nation.

This is the “secret” hidden in Soleimani’s message. Besides, Russia could easily – and secretly – supply Iran with state-of-the-art defensive missiles and the most advanced offensive missiles.

This absurd game of chicken is absolutely unnecessary for Washington from an oil strategy point of view – apart from the intent to break a key node of Eurasia integration. Assuming the Trump administration is playing chess, it’s imperative to think 20 moves ahead if “winning” is on the cards.

If a US oil blockade on Iran is coming, Iran could answer with its own Strait of Hormuz blockade, producing economic turmoil for the West. If this leads to a massive depression, it’s unlikely the industrial-military-security complex will blame itself.

There’s no question that Russia and China – the two key BRICS players – will have Iran’s back. First there’s Russia’s participation in Iran’s nuclear and aerospace industries and then the Russia-Iran collaboration in the Astana process to solve the Syria tragedy. With China, Iran as one of the country’s top energy suppliers and plays a crucial role in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Russia and China have an outsize presence in the Iranian market and similar ambitions to bypass the US dollar and third-party US sanctions.

Beam me up, Global South

The true importance of the BRICS Johannesburg summit is how it is solidifying a Global South plan of action that would have Iran as one of its key nodes. Iran, although not named in an excellent analysis by Yaroslav Lissovolik at the Valdai Club, is the quintessential BRICS Plus nation.

Once again, BRICS Plus is all about constituting a “unified platform of regional integration arrangements,” going way beyond regional deals to reach other developing nations in a transcontinental scope.

This means a platform integrating the African Union (AU), the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as well as the South Asian Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC).

Iran is a future member of the SCO and has already struck a deal with the EAEU. It’s also an important node of the BRI and is a key member, along BRICS members India and Russia, of the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC), essential for deeper Eurasia connectivity.

Lissovolik uses BEAMS as the acronym to designate “the aggregation of regional integration groups, with BRICS Plus being a broader concept that incorporates other forms of BRICS’ interaction with developing economies.”

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi has defined BRICS Plus and BEAMS as the “most extensive platform for South-South cooperation with a global impact.” The Global South now does have an integration road map. If it ever happened, an attack on Iran would be not only an attack on BRICS Plus and BEAMS but on the whole Global South.

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