Militants from the al-Qaeda-affiliated terror group Jabhat al-Nusra (also known as Tahrir al-Sham) are preparing false flag attacks in Syria, including fake footage of the civilians’ evacuation by militants and the restoration of buildings said to be destroyed by Russian and Syrian air strikes, the Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria reported.
“The Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria received information about the upcoming Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist provocation by telephone from residents of Idlib Governorate. According to the Syrians, who spoke to the center’s officers, last Friday a film crew from the news agency of one of the Middle Eastern countries came to the province. This group, together with the Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists, made fake videos about the evacuation of civilians to Alhelal al-Ahmar Hospital and the terrorists’ active “restoration” of civilian infrastructure, allegedly destroyed by Russian and Syrian air strikes,” the center’s statement says.
As the Russian Reconciliation Center specified, the film crew used for their footage residential buildings which had been destroyed during clashes between different militant groups in the area.
According to the information received by the center, the fake films were set to be released by some Arabian and Western media outlets and then blamed on Russia. The Russian reconciliation center concluded that this would also play into the hands of Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists, helping them to receive funding from Western non-government organizations operating in Idlib.
Local residents cited by the center stated that the film crew had come to the province last Friday.
Various terrorist and militant factions operate in the Syrian province of Idlib, where one of the Syrian de-escalation zones is located. In particular, in April, militants from the Damascus neighborhood of Eastern Ghouta withdrew from the area and were transported to Idlib.
Comment: Given that the Syrians are in the opening stages of their offensive on Daraa, which will undoubtedly be successful (as have all their major offensives for the past year or so), we can probably expect another false flag from the Israel-U.S. camp and their proxy forces. It’s their way of lashing out at Syria and Russia for destroying the terrorists they spent so much time and money nurturing.
[…] Today, Al-Quds (Jerusalem) and Palestine, as Imam Khomeini wanted when he instituted the (International) Day of Al-Quds, became a cause of (Islamic) dogma, a cause of faith, outside the (opportunistic) area of politics and the political bazaar, they became a cause of dogma, faith, humanity, truth, values…
Young Palestinians (in Gaza) go out (demonstrating) with bare hands against live bullets, and in Sanaa (tens of thousands of Yemeni) demonstrated under the bombs, just like in Al-Foua and Kafraya (Syria), the besieged and starving population demonstrated (for this International Day of Al-Quds). And combatants and Resistance are ready to shed their blood on all fronts for this (inevitable) day where Al-Quds and Palestine will be returned to their people, their owners and their (Muslim) community.
Today, this is our generation, these are our people, and this is a point of strength. Today, the power of the Resistance Axis lies firstly and fundamentally in his generations, one generation, a second, a third… Those who count on the fact that these (new) generations… Some refer to them as the generations of the Internet, Facebook, etc. Do not count on the fact that these generations in our Arab and Muslim world will stay silent, collapse, abandon or withdraw from the battle. And it’s the same for countries.
I have two words to say about the countries.
First, Iran. Since the first day of the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, it announced a resolute, radical and decisive stance on the Israeli-Palestinian issue (“Israel is a cancerous tumor that must be wiped out”), and pays the price of this position. And I want to tell you quite simply that the Islamic Republic of Iran would never have seen any hostility from the United States, Israel and the Gulf if Imam Khomeini had said from the first day: “We, Iran, just overthrew a tyrannical regime, we have poverty in our country, needy, hunger, underdevelopment, unemployment, etc. What do we care about Palestine?” It was not necessary that he recognize Israel, it would have been enough for him to say that he did not care about Palestine, that it was a cause that didn’t concern them at all, and Imam Khomeini and Iran would not have suffered this hostility, this collusion and these huge plots.
But the Islamic Republic, with Imam Khomeini, Imam Khamenei and its noble people, for 39 years, confirmed its resolute, radical and decisive position, of the magnitude of (religious) dogma, at the side of Palestine and the Palestinian people, and its absolute position with regard to Israel and Israel’s existence (illegitimate entity doomed to extinction). And Iran suffers the consequences of that position. It is natural, my brothers and sisters, that all those who oppose Iran find themselves allies of Israel. Excuse me (to emphasize this truth), but it is a natural equation. The hostility to Iran leads to embrace Israel, and it is a service rendered to Israel.
Also today, our Arab and Islamic peoples have the responsibility not to allow the United States, Israel and some of their instruments in the region to turn Iran into an enemy. Israel must remain the enemy, Palestine must remain the cause and Iran must be regarded as the fundamental, powerful, honest and truthful support. And this is what was expressed by His Eminence Imam Khamenei in his last speech, despite all Trump’s intimidation and threats, his withdrawal from the nuclear deal, US sanctions. And the US Secretary of State said Iran will face sanctions unprecedented in history. But these sanctions and threats, have they led to hesitation in the position of His Eminence Imam Sayed the Leader (Khamenei), officials of the regime or the Iranian people? Absolutely not. Today’s demonstrations in the streets of Iran confirm it.
Therefore, in our (Resistance) Axis, we also have a State, a regime and a people… Iran is not only a State and a regime. Behind us in Iran, stand a leader, a plan, a State, a people, religious authorities and a major regional power who support the Resistance, support Al-Quds (Jerusalem), the Palestinian cause and Resistance movements, who persevered for 39 years and are determined to persevere (in this direction), refusing subservience, submission, surrender or abandonment of any of their rights. Therein lies (another) point of strength.
And to all those who, as it happened just a few months ago, are betting on the fall of the Islamic regime in Iran that would cause a substantial disruption of the strategic situation, I tell them that their hopes are illusions, mirages. These people do not follow the Iranian media. I want to give them proof, since yesterday was the last Night of Decree in Iran. If they had taken some time, or if they had asked their media to collect photos of the Night of Decree in Iran yesterday, in Mashhad, Qom, Tehran, in other cities, (they would have seen the fervor) of this people, who fasts during the day, and stays up all night until dawn, for three nights, and reads (for a long time). And listen to me, listen to me, they read the Quran in Arabic, while we Arabs read very little of the Quran. They read (long) invocations for hours in Arabic. We see it on television. They read for hours invocations in Arabic! And the father, mother, children and grandchildren (the whole family, all generations) go (to mosques) for these occasions. Can such a people abandon its religion? Can it abandon its Islam? Can it abandon its Imam? Can it abandon its Islamic regime that it established itself with the blood of hundreds of thousands of martyrs (during the Revolution and the Iran-Iraq war)? In what illusory world do you live? On what mirages do you base your hopes? This Iran, despite all the blockade that has been imposed, has become increasingly powerful, present and active, both inside and in the region. Even if people could manifest here and there (in Iran) because of such excuse or such problem, it was fixed and it will lead to nothing (this is not an uprising against the regime).
I declare to Palestine in the first place, and to all the Resistance movements in the Resistance Axis, and the (different) generations of our (Muslim) community, our Axis: this great regional country (Iran) is powerful, influential (and stands) with resolve and decisiveness (with you).
Second, the upheaval that took place in Iraq in recent years (is another point of strength for the Resistance). In 2016-2017, Iraq was in grave danger, under threat of ISIS, this ISIS created by the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Wahhabi thought. But Iraqis have overcome it, and today in Al-Quds Day 2018, armed demonstrations and military parades are held in Baghdad for the International Day of Al-Quds, organized by those who participated in the victorious struggle against ISIS.
The Iraqi people elect their deputies, and we know the choice of the people. The position of religious authorities in the holy city of Najaf on Al-Quds and Palestine is very old, going back well before 1948, intangible, from Imam Sayed Mohsin al-Hakim, God have mercy on him, up to Imam Al-Sayed Khu’i, God have mercy on him, up to the highly active current authorities, (all denunced Israel as illegitimate and supported Armed Resistance). This is a well-known historical position followed by all (the successive authorities). The political forces in Iraq, the Iraqi people (are also on the same Resistance line). I do not want to attribute an official position to the Iraqi government, but I know well, thanks to my information, my contacts and my meetings, the true position of these people, and I know where they will be when the great battle (against Israel) will be triggered in this region. I will return to this point in conclusion.
This great upheaval in Iraq favors the Resistance Axis and the armed forces of the Resistance. Iraq, which the United States wanted to see busy and submitted, has not been submitted and never will be.
(As for) Syria, pillar of the Resistance Axis… Please bear (my speech for) a few more minutes for Al-Quds’ (Jerusalem) sake. Syria, this essential country of the Resistance Axis, was subjected in recent years to great trials, a total war, world war. This country belongs to this Axis (par excellence). Unlimited amounts of money have been poured there from all sides, as well as all types of weapons and all means, and all the red lines have been crossed. Today we are in 2018, and by the Grace of God the Most Noble and the Almighty, the largest and most important parts of Syria have regained peace and security, and the State has restored its control and presence, (including) in Damascus and the Damascus suburbs. And it is clear that the enemy Axis is now trying (desperately) to achieve if only a few (tokens of) victory.
Let me (explain) as regards Israel. Since the beginning of the events in Syria, Israel… I do not have time to read it (all), but our young (Hezbollah members) have compiled for me statements by Israeli officials since 2011 to date: from the President, then Shimon Peres, to the head of the government, Netanyahu, to successive ministers of Defense, chiefs of the intelligence services and some experts. Since 2011 and until recently, what did they say? I’ll just read you the headlines.
‘All options are preferable to Assad‘.
‘Israel’s interest lies in the departure of Assad‘.
‘Nobody in Israel prefer Assad to jihadists‘.
‘The fall of Assad would be a clear victory for Israel‘.
‘Assad will fall within a few weeks‘, said Barak in 2011.
‘The decisions of the Arab League against Assad are courageous and important‘.
‘We do not want the defeat…‘ said who? The chief of Israeli intelligence in 2016, and we inflicted a defeat on ISIS with our entire Axis in 2017-2018: in 2016 (he said) ‘We do not want the defeat of ISIS in Syria‘.
‘The weakening of Assad and his government’s expulsion is in the direct interest of Israel‘, said Ya’alon (Chief of Staff of the Israeli forces) in 2013.
‘We must defeat the regime of Bashar al-Assad‘. Etc., etc.
And after (all these Israel hopes were dashed), see how they called the (alleged) battle. Allow me (to speak) a few (more) minutes. Now they have (changed the aim of the battle, which was toppling Assad), and called it (‘Kicking Iran and Hezbollah out of Syria‘). Rather than conceding defeat in Syria, and recognizing that their hopes in Syria, pinned on terrorist takfiri organizations, collapsed, (these very groups that) Israel supported with its media, (direct) assistance, through its airstrikes, by providing weapons, ammunition, and everything (they could provide them). Absolutely everything. Instead of declaring their failure and defeat in Syria, and (recognize) that the State will remain, as well as the President and the (Syrian) Army, and that the organizations they have supported in recent years are about to disappear, Israel wants to falsify the (real) meaning of the battle, and now, Netanyahu, Lieberman and other are discoursing day and night (pretending) that the battle in Syria aims to kick out Iran and Hezbollah from Syria.
We accept this battle. We accept it. But before turning the page and opening this new chapter, you should first acknowledge, O Zionists, that you have been defeated in Syria, you have failed to bring down the pillar of the Resistance camp in the region, your hopes on terrorist groups were scattered to the four winds. Acknowledge that, and then, we could open a new page for the (alleged) battle you have entitled ‘Kicking out Iran and Hezbollah from Syria‘. And some Gulf countries also regard this battle as their own today, looking forward to make this new achievement, imagining that Russia will cooperate with them to get Iran and Hezbollah out of Syria. And they have high hopes and (are) happy (at this perspective), and they are ready to celebrate their victory.
I also say to these Gulf countries and all this Axis which fought (against us) in Syria: if you acknowledge your defeat, good. If you want to start a new battle under a new title, we can talk about it. I do not have time to talk about it in detail now, but I want to say a word regarding Hezbollah, so nobody thinks that this (PR stunt) is a (true) battle they can win.
As for Hezbollah, my brothers and sisters, when we went to Syria, we went there for two reasons, or rather for a reason that has two aspects. The first is our vision, our understanding and faith in the fact that what is happening in Syria is a major plot targeting the Syrian people, the Syrian government and the Syrian entity, and the Resistance Axis, and that if Syria fell into the hands of its enemies, into the hands of takfiris, a catastrophe would ensue for Lebanon, for Palestine and for the Resistance. And that’s what we explained for the last 7 years. That’s the first aspect. And the second aspect (is that we did it) at the request and with the agreement of the Syrian leadership and the Syrian government. That’s what got us in Syria.
When we went to Syria, we had no particular project. (Some say) that Hezbollah went to fight in Syria in order to get a seat in the Syrian government, or the Syrian Assembly, or to interfere in Syrian internal affairs, politics, government, or whatnot, or to get a share of the Syrian economy, etc., etc., etc. Sincerely and honestly, we had no particular project in Syria, and now that we are in 2018, and that Syria celebrates its victories, I declare to the world, to enemies as well as friends, that Hezbollah has no particular project in Syria, absolutely not. We are present in Syria where we need to be, and where Syrian leaders have asked us to be based on developments on the ground. There is (no project) for Hezbollah – as for Iran, they can speak for themselves, I will not appoint me as their spokesperson, unless they ask me to translate their position in Arabic. I speak for Hezbollah. This battle is an imaginary battle.
Naturally, when the goal is achieved, we will consider that we have won, from the position of those who have contributed (to victory), on their scale – you know me well, I do not increase the actual proportions of things and I do not exaggerate. Anyone has the right to comment on numbers, but as for us, we are not divulging (in detail the extent of our presence in Syria). At our level, with our contribution, (we participated) to the great Syrian victory in the World War (which was imposed on it). When Syria will be safe, when the remnants of armed terrorist groups disappear, when those responsible for the project (of destruction of Syria) will despair of (their ability to achieve) their project, we will consider it as a great achievement. And what I say publicly now, we (clearly) told it before to President Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian leadership. We have no problem. There is no problem.
At any time, anywhere, in any area where the Syrian leadership will consider, because of field data and national interests of Syria and the Syrian people, that Hezbollah should not be there, we will be grateful to them. We will not assume in any way that anyone inflicted a defeat us. O people, we will be glad and happy! Let Gulf countries know that. Let Israel know that. When we repatriate our youth (fighters), our people and our brothers to Lebanon, to their cities, to their homes and to their families, we will be happy and we will feel victorious, we will have the feeling of a mission accomplished. This is why we do not consider that there is any (real) battle in Syria aiming to have us stay or leave. What keeps us there is our duty and the Syrian leadership.
At the same time, I want to tell you something. At the same time, I want to tell you something. If the whole world formed a coalition… If the whole world formed a coalition to force us out of Syria, it would fail to make us leave. Even if the whole world gathered (against us). There is only one way (for us to leave), it is that the Syrian leadership tells us “Guys, God bless you, thank you…” They are grateful people and they thank us at every opportunity. “We are grateful and appreciate you, God bless you, the fighting has ended in this region and we won, you can go home.” How many fighters do we have (in order to) send troops to Syria (with no reason, our forces being limited)? Therefore, nobody should believe that there is a battle of this kind. Never. There is no battle here (these are lies of the enemy meant to allow him to save face). This whole issue concerns only the Syrian leadership, their estimate of the situation on the ground and their national security interests, and the current position of Syria against the great conspiracy which was hatched against it.
O my brothers and sisters! In Lebanon, we will bear all the pressure, (the designation as a) terrorist organization, etc. We have already talked a lot about the situation in Lebanon, the Israeli threats, I mentioned all these issues on May 25, and there is no need to evoke them again.
But on this International Day of Al-Quds (Jerusalem), I want to say to the Israelis, to the Palestinians and to the peoples of the world: just like we believe firmly, decisively and irrevocably, that Al-Quds and Palestine are just causes, we firmly believe, basing ourselves on our faith, on the Koran, on our doctrine, on the lessons, experiences and principles of History, and on our prediction of the future, that Al-Quds will be returned to its rightful owners, and that Palestine will be (completely) liberated. And Netanyahu’s sophistry will be to no avail.
Yesterday, Netanyahu said that Imam Khamenei wants to enrich uranium again in order to make a nuclear weapon and kill 6 million Jews in occupied Palestine. These are lies. First, Iran does not seek the nuclear bomb, and secondly, no one wants to kill 6 million Jews in occupied Palestine.
What we say, what the Palestinian people and the Arab and Muslim peoples say, and even what Islam says — I can say that this is the view of Islam — and what the Resistance says is this: we do not want to kill, we do not want to destroy, we do not want to throw (or drown) anyone in the sea. We tell you in a very civilized manner: embark in your ships, embark on your planes, and return to the countries from which you came. Regarding the (minority of) indigenous Jews, who are from Palestine, they are people of Palestine and they can stay there. As for the (Zionist) invaders, occupiers and settlers who came from all around the world, let them pack up their things and leave. This is the message of Islam, and this is the message of the Resistance. This is the message of the peoples of the region.
Contrary to what Netanyahu says, nobody wants to perpetrate another Holocaust or anything like that. But if you insist on perpetuating the occupation, then I assure you that the Day of the Great War in this region, whatever triggers it, is coming (fast). That day is close on which we will all pray in Al-Quds (Jerusalem).
We are awaiting that day, with a positive (active) expectation, getting ready for it, truly and faithfully. Fare well, and God’s peace be upon you and His mercy and blessings.
The bonds between European allies are not as strong today as they used to be. The well-known divisions within the EU are also the divisions within NATO as most European nations belong to both.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire believes that the EU is falling apart because its members cannot find compromises while they urgently need to tackle the migrants’ crisis as well as a whole host of other pressing problems. Some predict the demise of NATO for the same reason – the bloc’s inability to handle the issues of fundamental importance. This is the time of reshaping the Western security landscape. With the giant entities, such as NATO and the EU, facing the threat of partition, new smaller alliances are gradually forming instead.
On June 22, EU tariffs on US goods came into force to make Americans and Europeans opponents rather than friends and allies. Sharing what they call common values does not prevent disputes over fundamental issues and trade battles. We may witness a NATO burial at its Brussels summit on July 11-12 right after the EU’s actual partition at its top-level event on June 28-29.
With Brexit drawing near, the UK is still to carve out a new role for itself in the new security configuration. Its anti-Russia stance is a guide. The relationship with the US will always be special even if there is no chemistry between the leaders. But the dependence on America has its limits and the relationship may go through fluctuations. To be a power pole it needs to diversify the security ties. Forming a new defense pact with the EU is one of foreign policy directions. It will allow London to remain part of European defense deterrent after separation from the alliance’s political and economic structures. With NATO weakened, it’ll play an important role of go-between to link North America and the Old Continent. Its influence would be boosted if it joined a security entity it could lead. Moscow’s “irreconcilable enemies” are the right partners for a start.
On June 21, UK Foreign Secretary and Defence Secretary visited Warsaw within the format of annual Quadriga talks. The aim was to strengthen security, defence, and cyber ties with Poland, the unrecognized leader of Eastern Europe, which is on the outs with Brussels striving to hold its own. The text of the final communiqué shows the mission was accomplished. In December 2017, the parties signedthe Treaty on Defense and Security Cooperation. At the meeting they said the UK-Poland Defence Action Plan encompassing a range of military areas was being prepared for signature.
The steps to enhance defense cooperation are to be added by joint propaganda efforts to counter Russia. The parties agreed to establish what they call “a strategic communications project to support independent media in countries in Eastern Europe, to ensure a wider range of voices in the media, in order to strengthen resilience against disinformation.”
It’s worth mentioning that the UK stands out refusing to join other EU members in their criticism of Poland’s slide into authoritarianism while it is implementing its judicial reforms. PM Theresa May believes that the constitutional reform is an internal matter. Warsaw can use its burgeoning relationship with London as a bargaining chip in the relationship with Germany. Having left the EU, Great Britain can make a substantial contribution into recognizing the Poland’s status as the leader of Eastern Europe.
The hostility toward Russia is what formally unites them. On June 20, British General Mark Carleton-Smith, the newly appointed head of the British army, issued a warning over Britain threatened by Russia and called on the military to be prepared to “fight and win”. Poland is playing the American card against Russia as well as the EU. The country is to acquire a first strike capability to counter what it believes to be the Russian threat and applies efforts to make the US station substantial forces on its soil. Poland is in the focus of NATO infrastructure efforts. It hosts large-scale exercises preparing forces to conduct offensive operations against Russia. The military activities are closely coordinated with the Baltic States, which are also asking for larger US military presence. NATO has deployed four battalion-sized battle groups to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. The UK is among the nations that comprise the backbone of this force. Roughly 150 British servicemen are stationed in Poland. London and Warsaw join together supporting the “European aspirations” of the Western Balkan states. The UK is hosting the Western Balkans summit in London on July 9 and 10.
It’s normal that countries set up alliances while jockeying for influence and looking for benefits to reap. But it’s also a sign of NATO and the EU teetering on the edge. The emergence of other alliances is looming at the horizon.
In his London speech on June 21, NATO Secretary General said the bonds between Europe and North America are under strain and there’s no guarantee the trans-Atlantic alliance will survive. But the bonds between European allies are also not as strong today as they used to be. The well-known divisions within the EU are also the divisions within NATO as most European nations belong to both. It’s all intertwined. There are groups pursuing their own interests within the EU to give birth to the concept of a “multi-speed Europe”. It’s only natural that alliances within the alliance also emerge inside NATO under the circumstances and it’s a sign of weakness, not strength. This is a trend to partition. Add to it the EU efforts to create a defense deterrent of its own independent from the US. There is each and every reason to believe that many more signs of NATO losing its relevance will come into the open at the much-anticipated July summit.
[ The Original full text book, 316 pages, is free for download and distribution with proper attribution under commons.
As an editorial note from VT, the read itself is a useful dialog on historical studies of the Jesuits and the Inquisition. I have known some of the source authors for years. Gail Evans, now deceased and missed dearly, was our resident expert on this subject.
There are Q and A comment boards at the original site with some value for those with scholarly interest. Suffice it to say, there is controversy. The idea of Jewish origins of the Jesuit order and of the assertion that same maintained a contiguous agenda for centuries is well supported.
In its simplest form, it is asserted that Loyola and his associates began the Society of Jesus and unleashed a holocaust across the Christian world. In ways, I might go much further, tying in not only the tens of thousands murdered as witches, but the ethnic cleansing that, under Jesuit “Catholicism”, accounted for up to 100-million deaths, depending on whose figures you accept, in colonial conquests in the New World.
Consider the full download, it is a good read. g ]
“Those from the circumcision subverted the entire house of the Society. As sons of this world who are shrewd in dealing with their own, and avid of new things, they easily excite disorders and destroy the unity of souls and their bond with the government.” Lorenzo Maggio, Jesuit Curia in Rome, 1586.
One of the more interesting aspects of Jewish group behavior is the presence of subversive strategies employing crypsis, often facilitated by a combination of deception and self-deception.
To date, the most forthright and convincing theoretical framework for understanding cryptic forms of Judaism is found in Kevin MacDonald’s groundbreaking Separation and Its Discontents: Toward and Evolutionary Theory of Anti-Semitism.
A substantial portion of the fourth chapter of the text (1998/2004: 121–132) is devoted to ‘Reactive Racism in the Period of the Iberian Inquisitions.’ Here MacDonald puts forth the view (147) that the blood purity struggles of the Spanish Inquisition during the 15th and 16th centuries should be seen as “an authoritarian, collectivist, and exclusionary movement that resulted from resource and reproductive competition with Jews, and particularly crypto-Jews posing as Christians.”
The historical context lies predominantly in the forced conversion of Jews in Spain in 1391, after which these ‘New Christians’ or conversos assumed (or indeed retained) a dominance in the areas of law, finance, diplomacy, public administration, and a wide range of economic activities.
MacDonald argues (148) that despite superficial religious conversions, the New Christians “must be considered a historical Jewish group” that acted in such a way as to continue the advance of its ethnic interests. An integral aspect of this was that Wealthy New Christians purchased and endowed ecclesiastical benefices for their children, with the result that many prelates were of Jewish descent.
Indirectly, and almost certainly unintentionally, MacDonald’s arguments find much in the way of corroboration in The Jesuit Order as a Synagogue of Jews (2010) by Boston College’s Robert Aleksander Maryks. Examining the same geographical area during the same period, Maryks presents an account of the early years of the Society of Jesus, during which a fierce struggle took place for the soul, fate, and control of the Order; a struggle involving a highly influential crypto-Jewish bloc and a competing network of European Christians.
In this unpolished but interesting book, Maryks illuminates this struggle with reference to previously undiscovered material, in the process shedding light on some of the most important recurring themes of reactive anti-Semitism: Jewish ethnocentrism, nepotism, the tendency to monopoly, and the strategic use of alliances with European elites.
Perhaps most fascinating of all, Maryks makes significant reference to Jewish responses to European efforts to stifle their influence, some of which are remarkable in the close manner in which they parallel modern examples of Jewish apologetic propaganda.
As such, The Jesuit Order as a Synagogue of Jews is highly recommended for anyone seeking to understand, via an easily-digested historical case study, the dynamics of the ethnic conflict between Jews and Europeans.
Maryks divides his text into four well-paced chapters. The first provides readers with ‘The Historical Context of Purity-of-Blood Discrimination (1391–1547),’ a detailed standalone introduction to the nature of the ‘New Christian’ problem in Iberia but which should be read in conjunction with MacDonald’s work on the same theme. The second chapter concerns ‘Early Jesuit Pro-Converso Policy (1540–72),’ which demonstrates the intensive manner in which crypto-Jews infiltrated key positions in the Society of Jesus, adapting its ideological positions in accordance with their interests, and eventually establishing a monopoly on top positions that extended to the Vatican.
The third chapter, ‘Discrimination Against Jesuits of Jewish Lineage (1573–93),’ concerns the establishment of a movement acting against the crypto-Jewish strategy, with an analysis of the key figures and their rationale.
The fourth chapter, ‘Jesuit Opposition to the Purity-of-Blood Discrimination (1576–1608),’ examines the efforts of crypto-Jewish Jesuits to fight back against the European counter-strategy, often involving the employment of tactics and stances that are now familiar to us as the hallmarks of a Jewish intellectual movement.
This sequence parallels the processes that led to the Inquisition—New Christians establishing themselves in top positions in Spanish politics, business, and culture, provoking a reaction by the Old Christians aimed at regaining power, followed by Jewish counter efforts against the Inquisition and the against the Spanish government generally, the latter typically played out on the international scene.
One of the key strengths of this fascinating book is that Maryks can rely on relatively recent genealogical discoveries to prove beyond doubt that many of the individuals once merely “accused” of being crypto-Jews were undeniably of Jewish lineage. Maryks can thus cut through a clouded period in which ancestry was vital and yet fogged with accusations, denials, and counter-accusations, with tremendous clarity. In the author’s words (xxix), “racial tensions played a pivotal role in early Jesuit history.”
Opening his book, Maryks recalls delivering a paper on converso influence in the Jesuits, and afterwards receiving an email from a man with origins in the Iberian peninsula. The email concerned the remarkably long survival of crypto-Jewish behaviors in the sender’s family:
From Friday evening through Saturday evening, his grandfather would hide the image of baby Jesus from a large framed picture of St. Anthony that he kept in his home. It was, in fact, a wind-up music box. On Fridays he would wind up the mechanism and push a button, so that Jesus would disappear out of St. Anthony’s arms, hidden in the upper frame of the picture. On Saturdays he would push the button, so that Jesus would come back out from hiding into St. Anthony’s arms. As eldest son in his family, my correspondent was told this story by his father, who also asked him to eat only kosher food. (xv)
The survival of such eccentric, and in this case apparently trivial, forms of crypto-Judaism into what one assumes to be the early twentieth century, might appear to be little more than a socio-historical curio. In actual fact, however, it is a small but memorable vestige of what was once a very powerful means of continuing the Jewish group evolutionary strategy in the Iberian peninsula after 1391 — an overwhelmingly hostile environment. In a political, religious, and social context devoid of the synagogue and many of the most visible aspects of Judaism, small reminders of group difference, even otherwise trivial ones like hiding images of Jesus or adhering to discreet dietary rules, became vital methods for retaining group cohesion.
For some time, these methods were largely successful in facilitating the continuance of Jewish life ‘under the noses’ of the Christian host society. During this successful period, conversos were able to expand nepotistic monopolies of influence in a wide range of civic and even (Christian) religious spheres. When it failed, however, the consequences could be catastrophic.
Maryks points out (xxii) that from its founding in 1540 to 1593, the Society of Jesus had no discriminatory legislation against individuals of Jewish heritage, and that during this period converso Jesuits “held the highest administrative offices, and defined the Society’s institutional development and spirituality.”
However, significant resistance to this crypto-Jewish monopoly had developed by the latter date, and from 1593 to 1608 a power struggle resulted in the defeat of the crypto-Jewish element and the introduction of laws prohibiting the admittance of members of ‘impure blood.’ From 1608 until 1946 this involved a review of the ancestry of any potential member of the Society of Jesus, up to the fifth generation.
The Jewish Origins of the Jesuits
On 15 August 1534, Ignatius of Loyola (born Íñigo López de Loyola), a Spaniard from the Basque city of Loyola, and six others, all students at the University of Paris, met in Montmartre outside Paris, in a crypt beneath the church of Saint Denis, to pronounce the religious vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.
Ignatius’ six companions were: Francis Xavier from Navarre (modern Spain), Alfonso Salmeron, Diego Laínez, Nicolás Bobadilla from Castile (modern Spain), Pierre Favre from Savoy, and Simão Rodrigues from Portugal.
At this point they called themselves the Compañía de Jesús, and also Amigos en El Señor or “Friends in the Lord.” The Spanish “company” would be translated into Latin as societas, deriving from socius, a partner or comrade. This soon evolved into the “Society of Jesus” (SJ), by which they would later be more widely known.In 1537, the seven traveled to Italy to seek papal approval for their order. Pope Paul III gave them a commendation, and permitted them to be ordained priests. The official founding of the Society of Jesus occurred in 1540.
The presence and influence of conversos in the Society of Jesus was strong from the beginning. Of the seven founding members, Maryks provides categorical evidence that four were of Jewish ancestry — Salmeron, Laínez, Bobadilla, and Rodrigues. In addition, Loyola himself has long been noted for his strong philo-Semitism, and one recent PhD thesis has even advanced a convincing argument that Loyola’s maternal grandparents, (his grandfather, Dr. Martín García de Licona, was a merchant and financial advisor at court), were full-blooded conversos — thus rendering the ‘Basque nobleman’ halachically Jewish.
Jewish scholar of the Inquisition, Henry Kamen, who had earlier argued that the Inquisition was “a weapon of social welfare” used mainly to obliterate the conversos as a distinct class capable of offering social and economic competition to ‘Old Christians,’ once voiced his own personal view that Loyola was “a deep and sincere spiritual Semite.”
Straightforward assessments of the reasons for Loyola’s philo-Semitism are, as Maryks admirably elucidates, complicated by the ubiquitous presence of converso propaganda. More specifically, Loyola’s reputation as an ardent admirer of the Jews rests predominantly on a series of anecdotes and remarks attributed to him — and many of these derive from biographies penned shortly after his death by converso Jesuits aiming to promote and defend their interests.
For example, the only source for the argument that Loyola had an overwhelming desire to be of Jewish origin so that he could “become a relative of Christ and his Mother” is the first official biography of Loyola — penned by the converso Pedro de Ribadeneyra. Ribadeneyra is described by Maryks as “a closet-converso” who distorted many now-established facts about Loyola’s life, including a concealment of the fact that “the Inquisition in Alcalá had accused Loyola of being a crypto-Jew.” (43)
An important aspect of Ribadeneyra’s biography was thus the promotion of the idea that being Jewish was desirable and admirable — Loyola’s philo-Semitism (real or imagined) was intended to be emulated. Meanwhile the sinister aspects of crypto-Judaism, and their suppression by the Inquisition, were excised from the story altogether.
Whether Loyola was in fact a crypto-Jew, or whether he indeed was a European but possessed a strong desire to be a Jew, remains unconfirmed at time of this writing. However, it is certain that Loyola surrounded himself with many conversocolleagues and that he opposed any discrimination against converso candidates within the Society of Jesus. Maryks argues that, issues of crypsis and philo-Semitism aside, Loyola was probably “motivated by the financial support that he had sought from their [converso] network in Spain.”(xx)
In this reading then, Loyola was fully aware of the elite position of the conversos within Spanish society and was prepared to accept their money to establish his organization in exchange for adopting a non-racial stance in its governance.
The question of course remains as to why the crypto-Jewish elite in Spain would back, both financially and in terms of manpower, a Christian religious order. The important thing to keep in mind is that religion and politics in Early Modern Europe were intimately entwined, and that, through spiritual confraternities and their relationships with local elites, even poverty-espousing religious orders like the Franciscans could exert a strong form of socio-political influence.
This was often made even more sharply evident when religious orders engaged in missionary work in foreign lands, often taking pioneering roles in colonial regimes, and even assisting with their economic enterprises. William Caferro notes that in Renaissance Italy “the Florentine political elite was closely tied to the church. Government officials often held high church office and benefice, which aided their local political power.”Involvement in religious orders was thus a necessary aspect and extension of political, social, and cultural influence.
Unsurprisingly then, it can be demonstrated that crypto-Jews straddled the interconnected networks of royal administration, the civic bureaucracy, and the Church. Citing just some examples, Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh note in their history of the Inquisition:
In 1390 the rabbi of Burgos converted to Catholicism. He ended his life as Bishop of Burgos, Papal legate and tutor to a prince of the blood. [Burgos’s son would later become an important pro-converso activist and will be discussed below]. He was not alone. In some of the major cities, the administration was dominated by prominent converso families. At the very time the Spanish Inquisition was formed, King Ferdinand’s treasurer was converso in his background. In Aragón, the five highest administrative posts in the kingdom were occupied by conversos. In Castile, there were at least four converso bishops. Three of Queen Isabella’s secretaries were conversos, as was the official court chronicler.
For the crypto-Jewish elite of early modern Spain, the founding of an influential religious order headed by a philo-Semite (if not a fellow crypto-Jew), staffed predominantly by a conversoleadership, and constitutionally tolerant of conversoapplicants, would undoubtedly have been an attractive prospect.
That a bargain of some form existed between Loyola and his crypto-Jewish sponsors is suggested, as noted above, by the nature of the early Jesuit constitution and by early correspondence concerning the admission of candidates of Jewish ancestry. The founding of the Jesuit order had coincided with the rise of a more general Spanish anti-converso atmosphere that reached its peak in 1547, “when the most authoritative expression of the purity-of- blood legislation, El Estatuto de limpieza [de sangre], was issued by the Inquisitor General of Spain and Archbishop of Toledo, Silíceo (xx).”
Pope Paul IV and Silíceo’s former pupil, King Philip II, ratified the archbishop’s statutes in 1555 and 1556, respectively, but Ignatius of Loyola and his converso successor, Diego Laínez (1512–65) vigorously opposed the Inquisitor’s attempts to preclude conversos from joining the Jesuits. In fact, in a letter addressed to the Jesuit Francisco de Villanueva (1509–57), Loyola wrote that “in no way would the Jesuit Constitutions accept the policy of the archbishop (xxi).”
Seeking to quell rising tensions over the issue, in February 1554 Loyola sent his plenipotentiary emissary, Jerónimo Nadal (1507–80), to visit the Inquisitor. Nadal insisted that the Jesuit Constitutions did not discriminate between candidates of the Society on the basis of lineage, and even personally admitted a number of converso candidates during his visit to Iberia.
In a heated debate with the Inquisitor over the admission of one of them, Nadal replied: “We [Jesuits] take pleasure in admitting those of Jewish ancestry.” In what would become a striking pattern, most of the pro-converso arguments were made by crypto-Jews claiming to be native Spaniards. Maryks notes that his historical investigations suggest that Nadal was “most probably a descendant of Majorcan Jews (77).”
Jewish attempts to alter Christian thinking about Jews from within Christianity, were already well-established by the date of Nadal’s intercession with the Inquisitor. An excellent example is the classic work of Alonso de Santa María de Cartagena (1384–1456) — Defensorium unitatis christianae [In Defense of Christian Unity] (1449–50).
Alonso de Cartagena had been baptized (at the age of five or six) by his father Shlomo ha-Levi, later renamed Pablo de Santa María (c. 1351–1435), who— as chief rabbi of Burgos—converted to Christianity just before the anti-Jewish riots of 1391 and later was elected bishop of Cartagena (1402) and Burgos (1415). The fact that the wife of this Bishop of Burgos remained an unconverted Jewess does not appear to have impeded the latter’s career in the Church is interesting to say the least.
Meanwhile his son, Cartagena, like many other conversos, studied civil and ecclesiastical law at Salamanca and went on to a highly influential career straddling royal, civic, and religious spheres. He served as apostolic nuncio and canon in Burgos. King Juan II appointed Cartagena as his official envoy to the Council of Basel (1434–9), where he contributed to the formulation of a decree on “the regenerative character of baptism without regard for lineage (4).”
Like other examples of pro-converso propaganda, however, Cartagena’s arguments always went beyond mere appeals for ‘tolerance.’ According to Cartagena, “the faith appears to be more splendid in the Israelite flesh,” Jews naturally possess a “civic nobility,” and it was the duty of rough and uncouth native Spaniards to unite with the “tenderness of the Israelite meekness.” (14, 17)
Conversos thus emerge in the works of the earliest crypto-Jewish activists as more special than ordinary Christians, as naturally deserving of an elite status, and, far from being the worthy objects of hostility, were in fact uniquely blameless, ‘tender,’ and ‘meek.’ One is struck by the regular use of similar arguments in our contemporary environment, a similarity that only increases when one considers Cartagena’s attribution of anti-Jewish hostility solely to “the malice of the envious.” (20)
Against this backdrop of crypto-Jewish apologetics, Maryks demonstrates, whether he intends to or not, that the early Jesuits were largely a vehicle for converso power and influence (both political and ideological). Loyola continued to be “surrounded” by conversos throughout his leadership (55). Enrique Enríques, the son of Portuguese Jews, even authored the first Jesuit manual of moral theology, Theologiae moralis summa, in 1591. (65)
Maryks describes Loyola as having an unlimited “trust” in candidates of Jewish heritage, citing his decision to “admit in 1551 Giovanni Battista Eliano (Romano), the grandson of the famous grammarian and poet Rabbi Elijah Levita (1468–1549) …. He entered the Society at the age of twenty-one, just three months after his baptism (66).”
In explaining Loyola’s lax requirements for converso applicants, and resultant acquiescence in flooding the Society with crypto-Jews, it is strange that Maryks should abandon his own prior suggestion that the founding of the Jesuits may have rested on a quid pro quo with the converso elite in favor of a less convincing theory based on a putative and ill-explained “trust” that Loyola possessed for Jews. Unfortunately this is a common theme throughout Jewish historiography, where the facts and conclusions presented in the same text are often on entirely different trajectories.
In a similar vein, Maryks’s skeletal explanation that crypto-Jews flooded the Jesuits simply because Loyola had “numerous contacts with the converso spiritual and merchant network” before he founded the Society of Jesus, seems woefully inadequate and lacking in context.
Despite the best laid plans of Loyola and his colleagues, and just 32 years after its founding, the Society of Jesus would undergo a revolt from below against a rapidly expanding crypto-Jewish elite.
The features of this revolt represent a fascinating case study in the reactive nature of anti-Semitism. Maryks narrative of how two competing ethnic groups struggled for the future of the Jesuit Order, outlined in his second and third chapters, is certainly the greatest strength of the text. It is to this European counter-strategy that we now turn our attention.
The Russian Reconciliation Center in Syria reported that the first large group of Free Syrian Army militants had sided with the Syrian government forces in the Southern deescalation zone.
“On June 22, after talks between the representatives of the Russian reconciliation center and the Syrian authorities with the militants of the Free Syrian Army in the Southern zone of de-escalation, the leader of the Tajammu al-Wiyat al-Omari [Omari Brigades] announced that his group is siding with the Syrian government,” the center said in a statement.
According to the statement, the Omari Brigades leader also stressed that his group will fight against militants from Nusra Front* and Daesh* together with the Syrian army in the south of the country.
“By Friday evening, the first units of the Syrian army entered the settlements of Dama and Ashiyah in the Southern zone of de-escalation,” the document said.
The Syrian military ramped up their operation in the southwest, which might be risky, as both Israel and Jordan are openly nervous about Syrian forces regaining control along with their borders. Israel says there are Iranian forces coming closer to the Golan Heights along with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s troops, posing a danger to the state of Israel, while Jordan, in its turn, is more concerned about dealing with another wave of refugees fleeing southward from the conflict.READ MORE: Syrian Army Steps Up Offensive in Southwest — Reports
Most of the territory of Syria has been liberated by government forces with Russia’s air support, while the remaining terrorist pockets are located in US-controlled areas, including Deir ez-Zor.
So, the US is leaving the 47-member Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC). US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley made the announcement on June 19. The move followed criticism of the US immigration policy, especially the forced separation of alleged undocumented migrant parents from their children.
Formally, the reason is the bias against Israel, the failure to hold human rights abusers accountable and US calls for reforms remaining unheeded. Strange logic! Being a member, the US could protect its Middle East ally and attract world attention to violations of human rights. The premier intergovernmental human rights body may not be as effective as it could be but it is a platform to address the burning problems and a dialogue bridge.
The ambassador added that the council could be rejoined in the future if reforms were made. That’s the essence of Washington’s approach. Either the US has it its way or it quits, there is nothing in between: no compromise, no discussions, and no diplomacy. More and more often, the US demonstrates its “it’s my way or no way” approach to international problems.
The opposition to the withdrawal is strong, including US lawmakers and well-known NGOs, such as the Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Campaign, Save the Children, Freedom House and many others but their arguments have been ignored. Washington came under strong criticism internationally.
The pullout is a very decisive step conforming to the trend of the US stepping back from multilateral accords, international bodies and forums. Under the current administration, America has pulled out from the Paris climate accord, the UN educational, scientific and cultural organization (UNESCO) and the Iran nuclear deal. It also defied the world by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving its embassy there. Its participation in UN activities has been curtailed recently. For instance, in January, the US announced the decision to cut funds for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees. In March, Ambassador Haley said that UN peacekeeping operations will be axed. The idea to withdraw from the United Nations Organization has been reinvigorated recently in the US.
There are other reasons the US officials prefer not to mention. The International Criminal Court (ICC) is pressing ahead with the investigation of mistreatment of Iraqi detainees by British forces in 2003-2008. This is a warning for America. The 2003 invasion of Iraq was headed by the US without the approval by the UN Security Council. Fatou Bensouda, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, has mentioned alleged US violations to be investigated. She says the United States may have abused human rights in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
The US strongly opposes the ICC, so it’s only natural for it to be against the UNHRC and the UN in general. Washington has not ratified various international human rights related agreements. The country still has death penalty. It has failed to cope with police brutality and is known to have the world’s largest prison population (about two million people).
In 2014, the UN Committee Against Torture released a report that deeply criticized the US for racial discrimination and other human rights abuses, including electronic surveillance, CIA interrogations, immigrant detentions, the failure to shut down the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay etc. In 2015, a UN report slammed America for being the only country in the world to imprison children for life without parole. According to the recent Human Rights Watch paper, the US moved backward on human rights at home and abroad last year.
On many occasions, the legality of using armed drones by the US military and the CIA has been questioned by the international community. Last December, the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly voted in favor of a resolution calling on the US to reverse its decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Washington threatened those who backed the document with retaliation. The US sanctions policy has been criticized by UN officials saying it constitutes the violation of human rights. Actually, Russia or any other country under sanctions could launch a complaint with the UN Human Rights committee in accordance with Article 41 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Nobody’s perfect. So is the UN. Still the organization remains a vital instrument of international governance. It has managed many conflicts preventing abuses and saving lives. The UN Human Rights High Commissioner as well as a half dozen core human rights treaties have played an important role to protect human rights. An extensive international criminal justice system exists under the UN auspices. The attempts to free America from the burden of international law and global commitments in a high-tech era are hardly implementable. With the UN jettisoned, the US would return to pre-Second World War isolationism but will it make it richer, stronger, or more influential? How does the concept of the whole world marching out of step benefit the United States?
True, the council has serious drawbacks but the US leaves for another reason. While lecturing others on human rights, values and freedom, the US is far from being lily-white but it wants no curbs on what it does and no criticism, objections and discussions. Looks like “America First” and “America Isolated” have a lot in common.
Jonathan Ofir Mondoweiss Thu, 21 Jun 2018 16:20 UTC
Hussein Dawabshe, with his grandson Ahmad, in 2016.
There’s something particularly disturbing about celebrating the burning alive of a baby.
This is precisely what Israeli Jewish settlers were doing yesterday, outside the court in Lod. “‘Ali was burned, where is Ali? Ali is on the grill!”, they chanted, in reference to the 18-month old baby Ali Dawbsheh, who was burnt alive by Jewish terrorists in the West Bank town of Duma in 2015. Ali’s mother Riham and father Saad died of their wounds a few weeks later. Of the family of four, only 5-year-old Ahmad survived the arson with severe burns.
The terror-supporters were actually taunting Ali’s grandfather, Hussein Dawabshe, who was attending a preliminary hearing at which the court decided to indict one adult suspect who confessed to the murders, as well as a minor who was an accomplice. Hussein was accompanied by Palestinian-Israeli lawmakers Ayman Odeh and Ahmed Tibi. Tibi posted the video of the chanting, with policemen standing by doing nothing, and wrote:
“Where’s Ali? There’s no Ali. Ali is burned. On the fire. Ali is on the grill” – all this was thrown at our face – including at the grandfather Dawbsheh concerning his 18-month-old grandson by the riff raff of ‘price tag’. In front of us stood policemen and officers and did nothing. No words…
The terror supporters also referred to the other family members: “Where is Ali? Where is Riham? Where is Saad? It’s too bad Ahmed didn’t burn as well.”
This is certainly not the first time that the burning of this baby was celebrated. In December 2015, a video showing dozens of wedding guests celebrating the arson went public via Channel 10. The guests are seen dancing with Molotov cocktails, knives and guns, and stabbing a photo of baby Ali Dawabsheh. The wedding couple was said to be “very well known in the radical right”. Following widespread public outrage, Netanyahu distanced himself from the event, saying that these were “shocking images” which “show the true face of a group that constitutes a danger”, but he also provided the “many sides” narrative:
“That is not the proud religious Zionism that contributes to the state, and whose sons serve in the elite units in the army… It is also impossible to compare the scope of that terror with Arab terror. In the last month they [Arabs] carried out hundreds of attacks against us, and we saw just a few Jewish terrorist attacks.”
Comment: In fact, Israeli terror is comparably worse in practically every way.
A year later, 13 people from what became known as the “murder wedding” were indicted for incitement to terrorism.
Meanwhile, last month, in what was probably much less noticed, the Dawabsheh family home was torched once again:
“A group of settlers attacked my home at dawn today, breaking a window and throwing a Molotov cocktail inside before fleeing the scene,” Yasser Dawabsheh said. “We were lucky that I was able to hear them when they attacked, so I was able to evacuate all my family,” he said. “Fire crews reacted quickly and put out the fire before the whole house burnt down…”
So yesterday was a hearing in the court case concerning the original arson/murders. And the defense opened a can of worms concerning torture.
The defendants made an issue of their interrogations by Shin Bet officers, saying that they were tortured. In fact, the settlers had held a press conference to this effect at the very same hall in which the “murder wedding” was held.
The court announced at yesterday’s preliminary hearing that confessions obtained under torture by the Shin Bet interrogators would not be admissible, but that later confessions would be admissible. Haaretz note:
“If the confessions had been declared admissible, they probably would have ended in a conviction of the two suspects, legal experts had said. The rejection is a blow to the State Prosecutor’s Office as it will now be more difficult to obtain a conviction.”
Of course, Israel and the court refer to torture with euphemisms such as “moderate physical pressure” and “special methods”. But it’s torture – and the Haaretz coverage is clear about that, and even charts out some of the torture methods. The thing is, that torture (under whatever euphemism) is legal in Israel under certain circumstances, known as the “ticking bomb” scenario – where there is knowledge of other network members at large, who are bound to perpetrate an attack. Haaretz:
“Law enforcement agencies said the interrogation was justified because the two suspects had knowledge about a group that sought to perpetrate similar attacks. In the event, there were two failed attempts to commit similar attacks.”
So is the court now saying that torture is not permissible under any circumstance?
In 2007, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that torture was permissible under those ‘special circumstances.’ The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) slammed it, saying the ruling was interpreted by the Shin Bet as a green light to torture almost every Palestinian detainee. “Today in Israel, there is no effective barrier – not legal and certainly not ethical – that stands in the way of using torture. A secret service organization such as the GSS (Shin Bet) decides independently to use torture and, afterwards, investigates itself as to whether the use of interrogation was justified,” the committee said.
Israel has effectively been permitting torture in various modes. In 1987 the Landau commission overtly legalized torture. This prompted the outspoken scientist Yeshayahu Leibowitz to call Supreme Court judge Moshe Landau a “Judeo-Nazi“. Israel has wandered back and forth with the legality and its more or less overt modes, but the practices have continued.
Comment: Only democracy in the Middle East? More like the Jewish Saudi Arabia.
Yet now the Lod court is effectively saying that confessions from such practices are simply inadmissible under any circumstances. Would this also apply to Palestinians? This is doubtfully the case. The court is only a District Court, and it is only relating to this particular case, which happens to involve Jewish – not Palestinian – terrorists.
Judge Ruth Lorach was particularly effusive in her appraisal of the “special methods.” She said, “These methods have hurt the basic rights of the defendants in a severe manner – rights concerning preservation of the wholeness of the body and soul, and they have hurt their dignity.”
(This quote is notably only to be found in the Hebrew version of the Haaretz coverage).
So how much “dignity” are Palestinians really going to get from all this?
The virulently hateful scenes outside the court yesterday did not bode well.
Ahmed Tibi told Ynet that he asked police officers to do something about those chanting and taunting, but that they responded with indifference.
“What would have happened had the situation been reversed?”, he asked. “If 20 Arab youths were shouting about a Jewish fatality ‘he’s on the grill, he’s burning’? How many of them would have gone home with broken legs? How many would have been arrested?” Tibi wondered. “Part of the reason it was horrifying was the police’s indifference, like nothing had happened,” he explained. “They (the police) could have at least removed them from the court. (No need) to break legs. Legs are only broken to Arabs in Haifa, not to Jews. But they could have at least removed them,” he added.
Comment: The evil of banality.
Tibi notes that there were expressions of disgust from across the political spectrum, but silence at its top:
“But lo and behold-not a single minister (said anything), not Miri Regev [minister of culture], not Yisrael Katz [minister of intelligence], not Ayelet Shaked [justice minister], not Naftali Bennett [education minister] and in particular not the prime minister, who knows how to retweet awful things. He remained quiet instead of condemning this sickening phenomenon”.
Comment: Because they’re just as sick in the head.
H/t Edith Breslauer
About Jonathan Ofir: Israeli musician, conductor and blogger / writer based in Denmark.
Comment: There’s a lot said about radical Muslims and their incompatibility with Western culture. Well, the same goes for these Jewish fanatics. Identity politics will do that.
BEIJING – Tremendous; great, incredible and tremendous; very historic, and very, very comprehensive. Such were the terms U.S. President Donald Trump used to praise last Tuesday’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and he was far from alone in welcoming what appeared to be a major breakthrough in burying the memory of nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula.
A week later, Chinese President Xi Jinping also hailed the “positive” outcome of the meeting as he welcomed Kim to Beijing for a two-day trip, the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea chairman’s third visit to the Chinese capital in only three months.
The Chinese leader has plenty of reason to hail the unfolding peace process, as it represents the triumph of the dual suspension or “double freeze” proposal China offered last year, which prescribed an end to the DPRK’s weapons’ tests in exchange for an end to U.S.-South Korea war games.
The process is also lifting the shroud of diplomatic and financial pressure from Beijing’s shoulders when dealing with its counterparts in Pyongyang, who are counting on China’s diplomatic and technical reinforcement as it introduces further market reforms and seeks reintegration with the global economy.
According to Chinese press reports, the two held a candid and in-depth exchange of views on bilateral relations while agreeing to work closely together to further deepen ties, including joint efforts to denuclearize the peninsula.
“No matter the changes in the international and regional situation, China’s party and government’s resolute position on being dedicated to consolidating and developing Sino-North Korea relations will not change,” Chinese reports quoted Xi as saying.
The DPRK will require China’s assistance to ensure that the U.S. remains committed to fulfilling the security guarantees it gave to the country, rather than veering toward the so-called “Libya option” of disarming Pyongyang before proceeding to violently topple Kim.
While U.S.-DPRK negotiations have progressed at a stunning breakneck pace, they have also coincided with increasing strains in relations between Beijing and Washington, especially over the trade war Trump has launched against China.
Trade war heats up
As Chinese newspapers have brimmed over with quotes of officials hailing Trump’s U-turn on the Korean nuclear issue, the same media has spared no effort piling derision on the U.S. president’s successive introduction of tariffs on Chinese goods.
Just last week, Washington announced the introduction of a 25 percent tariff on up to $50 billion of Chinese goods, provoking Beijing’s retaliation in the form of its own tariffs on U.S. products. China’s reaction resulted in Trump demanding that the U.S. Trade Representative’s office compile a new list of $200 billion in goods that would be subject to a 10-percent tariff. The reality TV star noted that if China follows through on its threat to levy retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods, the U.S. would introduce duties on yet another $200 billion in trade.
China has reacted furiously to what it sees as a blatant attempt at strong-arming it into accepting unfair trade terms, promising strong countermeasures to Trump’s “intimidation.” On Tuesday, a Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesman noted:
Such practice of imposing extreme pressure and blackmailing is contrary to the consensus the two sides have reached through rounds of consultations, and disappoints the international community …The trade war waged by the United States is against both the law of the market and the development trend of today’s world. It undermines the interests of both Chinese and American people, the interests of companies and the interests of the people all over the world.”
The backdrop of fierce trade negotiations bordering on an all-out trade war between the two major powers may have led to the DPRK finding itself in the crosshairs of love-bombing attempts by both Washington and Beijing.
For the famously shrewd U.S. president, the prospect of disrupting the Chinese relationship with North Korea may be seen as a means of depriving China of leverage in trade talks. The former real-estate mogul may well believe that loud promises of glistening timeshares along Mount Paektu and Ritz Carlton hotels along the country’s east coast will entice Kim to drop his nukes and join the U.S. fold.
China-DPRK relations supported by the weight of modern history
Meanwhile, Beijing has pulled out all stops in feting Kim during his visits, which acclimates global public opinion to the idea that “Chairman Kim” isn’t some horrific dictator who should be treated as a pariah unless the U.S. says otherwise – no, he’s just the head of state in a nation seeking development.
In the meantime, the Communist Party of China and Workers’ Party of Korea have promoted a range of exchanges meant to promote the “all-round” fraternal relations and “mutually beneficial” alliance between the historically-intertwined organizations, whose ties date back to the 1930s, when first-generation leaders of their respective parties like Kim’s grandfather, Kim Il-sung, fought as comrades-in-arms as guerilla fighters versus the Japanese.
For the DPRK leadership, which spent the Cold War practicing a policy of equidistance between its mutually-opposed allies the Soviet Union and China, the position is comfortable and allows Kim to enjoy the benefits of amicable relations with both powers.
Reports have also emerged detailing how Chinese firms producing goods for the DPRK are resuming operations while North Korean laborers are being hired by clothing manufacturers in China, a sign that sanctions on the North are increasingly being shrugged off despite Washington’s unmet conditions for their relief.
“Although it seems there is a booming romance between Kim Jong-un and Trump, Kim understands the hierarchy. He knows that Xi is the Asian Godfather,” said Yanmei Xie, a China policy analyst at Gavekal Dragonomics, an economic research firm in Beijing. “[Kim] is making a pragmatic calculation that China can provide economic assistance to integrate North Korea diplomatically and economically into Northeast Asia.”
Now, with Xi’s go-ahead, the trade between the two countries could skyrocket in a manner that wipes away the foul taste of existing sanctions faced by Pyongyang, drastically undercutting Trump’s option of renewing the U.S.’s hostile policies toward a non-compliant DPRK.
Either way, war and pain are fast fading as prospects for the people of the Korean peninsula.
Top Photo | Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, hosts North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Dalian, China in this undated photo released on May, 9 2018 by KCNA.
Elliott Gabriel is a former staff writer for teleSUR English and a MintPress News contributor based in Quito, Ecuador. He has taken extensive part in advocacy and organizing in the pro-labor, migrant justice and police accountability movements of Southern California and the state’s Central Coast.
Republish our stories! MintPress News is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.
In the aftermath of the successful Kim-Trump summit in Singapore there is again speculation about the prospects of a possible summit meeting between the US and Russian Presidents, with Vienna the likely host city.
On the indications that a summit is in the air Dr. Doctorow has this to say
I say that a summit in the near future look likely, in part because that is suggested in several articles appearing recently in the Washington Post, in The Wall Street Journal, in The New Yorkermaking reference to unidentified contacts in the administration. In part, I base it on less obvious clues that speak to the vestigial Kremlinologist in me. One is the repeat broadcast this morning on Vesti/Rossiya-1 of an interview with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz that took place just before Vladimir Putin’s state visit on 6 June. Vienna has been mentioned as a possible venue for any such summit, and the interview makes plain why the country would be so very suitable as the site of a summit – namely Kurz’s populist and Euro-skeptic policies that are so highly appreciated by both Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.
The Return of Henry Kissinger
Dr. Doctorow suggests that Henry Kissinger, Richard Nixon’s former National Security Adviser who is now in Russia ostensibly to watch the World Cup, may be playing a crucial go-between role in setting up the summit.
One additional clue is that Henry Kissinger is said to be in Moscow right now, and Henry has been an adviser to Trump on policy to Russia ever since the 2016 campaign. He has been the voice urging an accommodation with Russia for a variety of geopolitical strategic reasons.
To which I would add that Henry Kissinger is not only known to be an adviser to Donald Trump; he is also known to have good contacts with senior officials in Moscow including Sergey Ivanov, Vladimir Putin’s former Chief of Staff, who continues to be a member of Russia’s Security Council (Russia’s top policy making body) and who has in the past spoken of Kissinger in effusive terms.
A get to know you summit; not a detailed negotiation
As to what a summit between Trump and Putin might look like, Dr. Doctorow suggests that the Kim-Trump summit may provide a possible precedent.
The Kim-Trump summit took place with only minimal preparation and produced only a bland one page statement of intent. However it has nonetheless managed to transform the international atmosphere. Dr. Doctorow suggests a Trump-Putin summit would be similar
All accounts of the President’s decision to seek a meeting with Putin in July indicate that he is doing this over the objections of every one of his advisers. Put another way, he would not appear to have many resources at hand at the moment for a solid preparation of the planned summit.
Normally, the Russians would not accept a meeting at the top without such preparation. However, in light of what just happened in the Singapore summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, which also had close to no preparation and ended in a one-page, 4-point statement of intentions which was swallowed by the American establishment and media upon Trump’s return home, the Kremlin may well have decided that this is the only way forward with an American President under siege from his own administration not to mention the federal bureaucracy.
I can envision a Letter of Intent signed by Trump and Putin in Vienna that has three points. Two are the points sketched above. The third could be a quite unexceptional statement on Ukraine that would conceal a significant change in US policy given in verbal assurances that would change the dynamics in US-Russian relations. Namely the sides could agree to take measures to ensure that both Kiev and the breakaway republics begin at once to honor the Minsk Accords. Behind this anodyne formula would be a US commitment to force the hand of Poroshenko or to have him removed and replaced by someone who will do what is necessary to achieve a political settlement with Donbass. In return, the Russians would ensure quick deployment of a UN or other reputable peace keeping force in the Donbass at the lines of separation of forces and at the Russian Ukrainian border.
The Letter of Intent would be a start, would give a new direction to the bilateral relations and would open the way to creation of working groups and restoration of lines of communication that Barack Obama foolishly severed following the tainted advice of his Neocon staff at the State Department.
The other three items which Dr. Doctorow envisages might be in the summit communique other than Ukraine relate to arms control and Syria.
On the subject of Syria Dr. Doctorow envisages an agreement along these lines
There have been rumors that the United States is seeking a de facto if not de jure partition of Syria whereby its control over the Kurdish territory east of the Euphrates River is recognized by the Russians. The logic for this U.S. interest may well be related more to containing Iran than to depriving the Assad government of territory, population and hydrocarbon resources. Figuratively the American zone would be a bulwark against Iranian infiltration of Syria and Iran’s enjoying unchallenged military access to the Israeli border. Considering the obvious understandings between Netanyahu and Putin over Iranian operations on Syrian soil, it is quite possible that Russia would agree to the US proposal as part of a bigger negotiation over improving bilateral relations.
On the subject of arms control, Dr. Doctorow puts it this way
Restarting arms control negotiations should take in more than propping up existing agreements that are either coming to term or are being systematically violated (agreement on short to intermediate range missiles). From Trump’s remarks on the new arms race, it would be entirely logical for him now to accept Vladimir Putin’s invitation to discuss the new technology strategic weapons systems such as Russia is now rolling out, as well as cyber warfare. They would also reopen talks on the US missile defense installations on land in Poland and Romania and at sea off the Russian coasts which gave rise to Russia’s development of what are called invincible offensive systems in response.
Is any of this likely to be true? Is a Trump-Putin summit of the sort envisaged by Dr. Doctorow really in the works?
Urgent need for a Trump-Putin summit
The first thing to say about such a summit is that it is sorely needed and that Trump and Putin should not be deterred from holding it simply because there has been only minimal preparation for it.
As a result of the phoney Russiagate scandal, whose absurdity grows by the day, we have a ridiculous situation where the two men who command the world’s two most powerful militaries can each meet one to one with every other world leader – including it turns out North Korea’s Kim Jong-un – but not apparently with each other. The sooner this ridiculous and dangerous situation is ended the better.
Moreover, as Dr. Doctorow rightly says, such a summit meeting between Trump and Putin has a value that goes far beyond anything that the two men concretely agree with each other.
There mere fact that the leaders of the United States and Russia are finally talking to each other will transform the international atmosphere, and will hopefully bring to an end the climate of tension which has existed in the international system since the Western sponsored Maidan coup in Ukraine in February 2014.
As Dr. Doctorow also rightly says, it is actually better in this situation if Trump and Putin do not agree to anything specific with each other since in the present atmosphere anything they did agree with each other would almost certainly be misrepresented in the US by Donald Trump’s opponents as a betrayal.
Above all the subject of sanctions – as Dr. Doctorow rightly says – should certainly not be discussed, and no agreement to lift them should be reached.
However that does not mean that with respect to the sanctions a summit between the US and Russian Presidents would not be important. The mere fact that the Presidents of the US and Russia were meeting would make the unrolling of further sanctions against Russia look increasingly unlikely.
Moreover a signal from the US – which a Trump-Putin summit would itself be – that further US sanctions against Russia are off the table would almost certainly be all the encouragement many international investors and businesspeople would need in order for them to start investing in Russia in a big way.
With Russian costs and assets now extremely cheap, and with the macroeconomic environment in Russia extremely stable and business friendly, the fear of further sanctions against Russia is now arguably the one thing which is discouraging international investors and businesspeople from piling into a Russia. Here is how the Financial Times – normally a harsh critic of Russia – puts it
….the rouble has stabilised while investors have marked down the currencies of Argentina, Turkey, Brazil and other emerging market countries in the face of a resurgent dollar and rising Treasury yields. Because while they run large current account deficits, which need financing from capital flows, Russia runs a trade surplus.
Compared with other parts of emerging markets, “Russia is in a relatively comfortable position”, says Piotr Matys, EM strategist at Rabobank.
While a number of EM central banks have raised interest rates to counter the impact of the stronger dollar on their economies, the Central Bank of Russia is weighing a rate cut. And although investors have doubts about the credibility of some EM policymakers, they like CBR governor Elvira Nabiullina for bringing discipline and a consistent communication strategy to the central bank.
Inflation was raging at 15 per cent three years ago, but at 2.4 per cent is now below the CBR target of 4 per cent.
April’s sanctions prompted JPMorgan analysts to close long positions in the rouble, but they are now reintroducing them.
Nafez Zouk, macro strategist at Oxford Economics, says pressure on the rouble is “softening out given that the perception of geopolitical risks has faded”, and reckons the currency is undervalued on the basis of real exchange rate behaviour.
Russia may attract opprobrium on the world stage, but investors don’t mind holding their nose when opportunities arise.
Whilst a softening of the sanctions pressure will therefore almost certainly not be on the agenda of any summit between Trump and Putin, it would nonetheless be a consequence of it and would be an actual material benefit Russia would gain from a summit.
What of the US however, what might the US and Donald Trump gain from a summit with Vladimir Putin now?
Re-starting arms control
The answer to that has been provided by Dr. Gilbert Doctorow
Restarting arms control negotiations should take in more than propping up existing agreements that are either coming to term or are being systematically violated (agreement on short to intermediate range missiles). From Trump’s remarks on the new arms race, it would be entirely logical for him now to accept Vladimir Putin’s invitation to discuss the new technology strategic weapons systems such as Russia is now rolling out, as well as cyber warfare. They would also reopen talks on the US missile defense installations on land in Poland and Romania and at sea off the Russian coasts which gave rise to Russia’s development of what are called invincible offensive systems in response.
As my colleague Alex Christoforou and I have recently discussed in a video, Russia’s success in developing hypersonic missile technology has fundamentally changed the strategic military balance between the US and Russia.
Moreover this is happening at a time when the US’s Nuclear Posture Review was already making clear the US military’s growing dismay about the way the international military balance is shifting against the US. Here is some of what I have previously said about the US Nuclear Posture Review in a previous article for The Duran
…..today – as was never the case during the Cold War – the aggregate economic, technological and especially industrial and raw material resources of Russia and China are greater than those of the US, calling into question the US’s long term ability to sustain an arms race which it insists on conducting simultaneously against both of them.
Already there is a marked build up of Russian conventional forces in eastern Europe, probably outmatching the size and power of the conventional forces the US currently has in Europe, whilst the Chinese aircraft carrier programme threatens US military dominance of the Pacific for the first time since the end of the Second World War.
At present the US still has the military forces to take on both the Russian army in Europe and the Chinese navy in the Pacific simultaneously.
However before long that will become impossible, at which point the US will find itself not only disastrously over-extended but facing a military commitments’ crisis….
The US Nuclear Posture Review is in fact a profoundly pessimistic document, more so than any other foreign policy or defence document the US government has published which I have read since the end of the Cold War.
Not only does it effectively admit what is now undeniable – that with the return of Great Power competition the ‘unipolar moment’ has passed – but it barely conceals its dismay that the US is once again locked into something which following the end of the Cold War it assumed it would never have to face again: a nuclear arms race…..
Indeed it is easy to see how the US’s overall military position is rapidly becoming worse than it was during the Cold War.
The Cold War was essentially a dual between two nuclear superpowers – the US and the USSR – which was fought out in a limited geographical area – north west Europe and the north Atlantic.
By contrast the challenges the US is now facing are becoming truly global: against Russia in Europe, against China in the Pacific, and potentially against North Korea and Iran in the Korean Peninsula and in the Middle East.
Moreover, despite their differences there is a growing trend for three of these Powers – Russia, China and Iran – to work together with each other, with Russia and China de facto allies against the US, and Iran gradually becoming so.
It is only a question of time before the US finds that it does not have the conventional military forces to confront all these challenges simultaneously……
Dr. Doctorow claims that Henry Kissinger’s original reason for pressing Donald Trump to repair relations with Russia was precisely because of his alarm about the deterioration in the US’s global position caused by the US’s careless undoing of his 1970s diplomatic achievement of setting China and Russia off against each other
I have noted before that Kissinger’s advice to Trump during the electoral campaign to reach an accommodation with Moscow was aimed at decoupling the budding Russia-China strategic partnership that has undone all that Nixon and Kissinger achieved in the 1970s. I have also noted that Putin rejected this conceptualization of the path to normalized relations with the US when Trump’s emissaries put it to him early in the spring of 2017. Putin is very loyal to his friends and would never turn on Chinese President Xi for the sake of an invitation to the White House. After that setback, Kissinger appeared to have disappeared from the Trump’s entourage.
In light of this the further deterioration of the US’s strategic military position highlighted by the Nuclear Posture Review and confirmed by the new generation of Russian hypersonic weapons unveiled in Putin’s March State of the Union Address can only have given in Kissinger’s mind added urgency to the US’s need for a new arms limitation arrangement with Russia.
A ‘geostrategic ceasefire’?
This after all is the course I proposed in my discussion of the Nuclear Posture Review, and it is overwhelmingly likely that Kissinger – the nearest thing the US has to a foreign policy realist – shares it
In a rational world that ought to drive the US towards seeking some sort of rapprochement with either Russia or China or preferably with both of them.
Both countries are still overwhelmingly focused on their internal economic development, and for that reason they would probably be willing to come to some sort of ‘geostrategic ceasefire’ arrangement with the US if it were offered to them.
The brief detente era between the US and the USSR of the early 1970s offers a possible precedent, though given subsequent US behaviour the US now faces a massive trust deficit which it will struggle to overcome.
However that remains the rational approach for the US to be taking, and in my opinion if it took it, and committed itself to it seriously, it would probably despite all the trust issues achieve success given the overriding interest of both Russia and China in a peaceful and stable world situation at this time. Certainly the view expressed in the Review that Russia and China are ‘revisionist’ powers is for the time being at least wrong.
If this is indeed the direction things are taking then it is completely unsurprising that Henry Kissinger – the individual most associated with the previous ‘geostrategic ceasefire’ between the US and Russia of the 1970s – is at the forefront negotiating it.
That ‘geostrategic ceasefire’ after all was also the product of an earlier US over-commitment crisis, with the US struggling to balance the competing demands of its strategic arms race with the USSR and the war in Vietnam.
Nixon and Kissinger responded to the 1970s US over-commitment crisis by coming to arms limitation agreements with the Soviets whilst simultaneously reaching out to China and scaling down the war in Vietnam.
It is just possible that Donald Trump on Kissinger’s advice is feeling his way to doing something similar now, and that some of his recent moves eg. the summit with Kim Jong-un and the talk of a summit with Putin now are the outward indications of it.
That would make sense of some of Donald Trump’s recent talk about Russia, which Dr. Doctorow describes in this way
Evidence of Kissinger’s return to favor came as recently as a week ago when Trump reportedly said behind closed doors at the G-7 meeting that Crimea is rightfully Russia’s. That is half of the new equation for normalization of relations now being attributed to Kissinger by hearsay: the other side of the equation being that in return Russia would withdraw its support to the rebellion in Donbass against the Ukrainian authorities.
Given the scale of the US’s pending over-commitment crisis, such a policy aiming at a ‘geostrategic ceasefire’ with Russia might just possibly if it was explained properly even in time gain a measure of support in Washington. Here is what Dr. Doctorow has to say about that
However it is important to stress that what looks to be on the agenda at least for the moment is a ‘geostrategic ceasefire’, not a full scale rapprochement between the US and Russia.
The US and Russia would remain adversaries. However sanctions pressure on Russia would ease, attracting external investors to Russia, whilst the Russians would be given time and space to give all their attention to their economy without being distracted by the constant pressure on them of the US. The US for its part would be under less pressure to engage in an arms race with Russia and China which it now lacks the resources to win.
Donald Trump himself has at times gone further and has spoken of actual friendship between the US and Russia. That is not however on the agenda in the foreseeable future.
What are the prospects of success?
No retreat by Russia on Ukraine, Crimea or Donbass
Firstly Dr. Doctorow is certainly right when he says that any idea of Russia abandoning the two People’s Republics of the Donbass to their fate in return for a ‘geopolitical ceasefire’ with the US can be firmly ruled out
To abandon Donbass to the not so tender mercy of Ukrainian nationalists and revanchists would be political suicide for Putin given the strength of feeling on the subject among his supporters
The topic of the UN peacekeeping mission in Donbass was discussed at the meeting of foreign ministers of the Normandy Four participants [Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France], Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday.
“Yes, UN peacekeepers were discussed,” the Russian minister said. “The Russian position is crystal clear. We have a proposal introduced last September to the UN Security Council and aimed at providing UN security for observers working through OSCE,” Lavrov said.
At the same time, Ukraine continues insisting on the US variant of the UN mission in Donbass, which ruins Minsk Agreements completely, Lavrov noted.
“We explained that ideas put forward by US and Ukrainian representatives to convert this peacekeeping mission into a sort of military-political commandant’s headquarters to take control over the whole territory of proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk Republics and which will decide on its own, who will be elected and in what way, completely ruins Minsk Agreements,” the Russian minister said.
“It seems to me that the French and the German understand our logic,” he added.
Given the total lack of trust the Russians have in any peacekeeping force proposed by Ukraine and the Western powers, and given that the supporters of this proposal for a peacekeeping force make no secret that it is their intention to use it as a means to return the Donbass to Kiev’s control, I do not see the Russians ever agreeing to it.
Conversely, I don’t see Trump – as Dr. Doctorow suggests – ever agreeing to Ukrainian President Poroshenko’s removal to please Putin and I don’t see Putin requesting it; nor do I see Trump agreeing to increase pressure on Ukraine in order to get Ukraine to implement the Minsk Process, and I don’t see Putin requesting it from him either.
I suspect that the most one can hope for coming out of a Trump-Putin summit on the subject of Ukraine would be a public recommitment by the US and Russia to the Minsk Process – as Dr. Doctorow suggests – together with a private understanding between Trump and Putin to put the issues of Crimea and Ukraine to one side.
Frankly I don’t think Trump cares about either Crimea or Ukraine, and I suspect that he would be only too happy to leave them to their own devices if he thought that that would be the way to get Putin to come to some sort of understanding with him each on issues like arms control which he really cares about.
As for Putin, I think that would be almost the optimal position for him, leaving Ukraine in effect adrift.
A winding down of the conflict in Syria
As for Syria, again I strongly doubt that the Russians would ever agree to even an informal partition of Syria along the lines Dr. Doctorow suggests.
Far more likely is that Putin will pass on to Trump assurances the Russians appear to have been given by the Iranian and Syrian leaders that the Iranian presence in Syria is connected to the ongoing conflict in Syria and will be significantly scaled down once the Syrian conflict ends.
Unlike Crimea and Ukraine Iran’s role in Syria is something Trump does care about, but again I suspect he would probably accept assurances of this sort given him by Putin if he were to see in them the way forward to an agreement with Putin on even more pressing issues such as arms control.
There is no longer any possibility of regime change in Syria. From Donald Trump’s point of view an implicit assurance that after the Syrian government’s final victory the Iranian presence in Syria will be scaled down is probably a more attractive option than maintaining a US military presence in Syria indefinitely.
Russian media discusses the summit
The basis of an understanding between Trump and Putin is therefore there, and as Dr. Doctorow says there are now straws in the wind which suggest that the two men may be working towards a summit as they feel their way towards that understanding.
Indeed, even as I have been writing this article, Russia’s official TASS news agency has published a summary of an article in the Russian newspaper Kommersant which also discusses the rumours that a summit may be pending.
Russian and US Presidents Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump are reportedly gearing up for a summit in July. Numerous media leaks about the two leaders’ meeting, which is expected to be held in one of the European capitals, and information provided by Kommersant’s sources, indicate that preparations for it are underway. However, the paper’s interlocutors warned many White House officials are opposed to the idea, arguing that for Trump the proposed meeting will only make sense in the event of a breakthrough agreement on at least one of the key issues on the Russian-US agenda.
This has been confirmed by former Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and currently Director of the Center for Political Studies Andrei Fyodorov who cited his own US diplomatic sources.
Unsurprisingly the Kommersant article identifies Donald Trump’s perennially hawkish National Security Adviser John Bolton as the primary opponent of the idea for the summit.
However, interestingly enough, Bolton’s opposition to the summit appears to be based not on an objection to a summit with Putin in principle, but rather to his concern that it might be difficult to sell the idea of such a summit to an implacably hostile US political establishment now
“Among the opponents of the July summit plans is National Security Adviser John Bolton. Bolton known for his critical attitude towards Russia insists that for Donald Trump such a meeting would only make sense if he could take credit for it, similarly to the summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore,” Fyodorov explained. “At the moment, the White House is not certain Trump could present his summit with Vladimir Putin to his opponents as a foreign policy victory in the run-up to the November elections to the US Congress. For example, an agreement to revive the nuclear disarmament negotiation process and maintain strategic stability could be such a victory.”
Having said this, If it is merely questions of presentation that are holding the summit back, then it is likely to happen sooner or later as Donald Trump’s political position in the US grows steadily stronger. Another Russian analyst quoted by Kommersant explains it correctly in this way
According to Yuri Rogulev, Director of the Franklin Roosevelt US Policy Studies Center at Moscow State University, “Trump shows consistency in fulfilling his election pledges, although he is not ready yet to fully iron out relations with Russia.” “As the alleged ‘Russian meddling’ probe is running out of steam, Trump is trying to achieve a reset in relations with Moscow. His remarks about making Russia a member of the global powers’ club again and turning the G7 into G8 was yet another reminder,” the expert stressed.
A return to Trump’s original ideas about Russia?
Shortly before Donald Trump was inaugurated President of the United States, but after his election as President, he gave an interview to The Times of London in which he spelled out his foreign policy ideas.
They have sanctions on Russia — let’s see if we can make some good deals with Russia. For one thing, I think nuclear weapons should be way down and reduced very substantially, that’s part of it. But Russia’s hurting very badly right now because of sanctions, but I think something can happen that a lot of people are gonna benefit.
At the time this suggestion was made it provoked widespread dismay in Washington and amongst the US’s European allies as it was seen – correctly – as in effect throwing Ukraine under a bus.
However it appears to correspond with the direction in which Trump – possibly on Henry Kissinger’s advice – is currently travelling.
Whether Trump will be able to follow it, and what the ultimate destination will be if he does, remains to be seen.
US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on Tuesday that the US wants rapprochement with Russia.
“Overall, I can say that the United States government would certainly prefer to have a stronger relationship with the Russian government,” Nauert told reporters.
What’s more, on Friday, Trump said it is possible that he might meet with Russian President Putin this summer. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has confirmed this possibility.
On Monday, Russian congressman Konstantin Kosachev revealed to reporters that US Senators have requested a meeting with the Council of the Federation, Russia’s equivalent of the US Senate, and that such could be held in early July.
Since 2014, relations between Russia and the United States have deteriorated over the crisis in Ukraine. Washington imposed anti-Russian sanctions in response to Crimea’s reunification with Russia and alleged Russian involvement in the war in Donbass.
Russia has denied all these charges and has launched its own economic sanctions in retaliation.
Just recently, a new wave of sanctions followed Western allegations that Russia has been engaged in malicious cyber activity, which Moscow has called unfounded.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has remarked that the West could not possibly find a weaker argument, and that such unfounded allegations have been completely refuted.
Indeed, it is clear that Washington’s main gripe with Moscow is that Russia has successfully fended off aggressive NATO power projections against the Eurasian giant, particularly in South Ossetia, Ukraine and Syria. This is part of the larger context of Russia and China emerging as superpowers and championing a multipolar world which threatens to put an end to Washington’s unipolar dominance since the destruction of the Soviet Union in 1991.
The US consistently refused to accept the reality of growing multipolarity until Donald Trump rose to power in Washington. As Fort Russ News has argued, Donald Trump represents an attempt at reforming the US’ geopolitics in the wake of its unipolar empire’s decline.
One aspect of Trump’s ambitious reform project has been rapprochement with Moscow in order to re-adjust the focus of US imperialism towards Iran, China, and Latin America. It is in this context that Washington’s latest diplomatic pronouncements on Russia should be seen. The same goes for Trump’s major claim on June 8th that the G7 should accept Crimea as Russian.
Trump’s overtures towards Russia have been persistently opposed and even sabotaged by the deep state of Washington’s establishment and Trump’s political opponents who have fanned a massive media campaign to allege that Trump is in office thanks to Russian interference in the American elections.
Whether Trump’s diplomats’ expressed desires to improve relations with Moscow will be translated into reality remains an open question. A Trump-Putin meeting this summer would be a serious step in this direction. We might just be seeing the rhetorical warm-up for such now.
Comment: Trump campaigned on better relations with Russia. If his track record is anything to go buy, we may just see it happen.