Why the New Silk Roads are a ‘threat’ to US bloc

he Middle East is the key to wide-ranging, economic, interlinked integration, and peace

By Pepe Escobar

January 28, 2020 ”

  Under the cascading roar of the 24/7 news cycle cum Twitter eruptions, it’s easy for most of the West, especially the US, to forget the basics about the interaction of Eurasia with its western peninsula, Europe.

Asia and Europe have been trading goods and ideas since at least 3,500 BC. Historically, the flux may have suffered some occasional bumps – for instance, with the irruption of 5th-century nomad horsemen in the Eurasian plains. But it was essentially steady up to the end of the 15th century. We can essentially describe it as a millennium-old axis – from Greece to Persia, from the Roman empire to China.

A land route with myriad ramifications, through Central Asia, Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey, linking India and China to the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea, ended up coalescing into what we came to know as the Ancient Silk Roads.

By the 7th century, land routes and sea trade routes were in direct competition. And the Iranian plateau always played a key role in this process.

The Iranian plateau historically includes Afghanistan and parts of Central Asia linking it to Xinjiang to the east, and to the west all the way to Anatolia. The Persian empire was all about land trade – the key node between India and China and the Eastern Mediterranean.

The Persians engaged the Phoenicians in the Syrian coastline as their partners to manage sea trade in the Mediterranean. Enterprising people in Tyre established Carthage as a node between the Eastern and Western Mediterranean. Because of the partnership with the Phoenicians, the Persians would inevitably be antagonized by the Greeks – a sea trading power.

When the Chinese, promoting the New Silk Roads, emphasize “people to people exchange” as one of its main traits, they mean the millenary Euro-Asia dialogue. History may even have aborted two massive, direct encounters.

The first was after Alexander The Great defeated Darius III of Persia. But then Alexander’s Seleucid successors had to fight the rising power in Central Asia: the Parthians – who ended up taking over Persia and Mesopotamia and made the Euphrates the limes between them and the Seleucids.

The second encounter was when emperor Trajan, in 116 AD, after defeating the Parthians, reached the Persian Gulf. But Hadrian backed off – so history did not register what would have been a direct encounter between Rome, via Persia, with India and China, or the Mediterranean meeting with the Pacific.

Mongol globalization

The last western stretch of the Ancient Silk Roads was, in fact, a Maritime Silk Road. From the Black Sea to the Nile delta, we had a string of pearls in the form of Italian city/emporia, a mix of end journey for caravans and naval bases, which then moved Asian products to Italian ports.

Commercial centers between Constantinople and Crimea configured another Silk Road branch through Russia all the way to Novgorod, which was very close culturally to the Byzantine world. From Novgorod, merchants from Hamburg and other cities of the Hanseatic League distributed Asian products to markets in the Baltics, northern Europe and all the way to England – in parallel to the southern routes followed by the maritime Italian republics.

Between the Mediterranean and China, the Ancient Silk Roads were of course mostly overland. But there were a few maritime routes as well. The major civilization poles involved were peasant and artisanal, not maritime. Up to the 15th century, no one was really thinking about turbulent, interminable oceanic navigation.

The main players were China and India in Asia, and Italy and Germany in Europe. Germany was the prime consumer of goods imported by the Italians. That explains, in a nutshell, the structural marriage of the Holy Roman Empire.

At the geographic heart of the Ancient Silk Roads, we had deserts and the vast steppes, trespassed by sparse tribes of shepherds and nomad hunters. All across those vast lands north of the Himalayas, the Silk Road network served mostly the four main players. One can imagine how the emergence of a huge political power uniting all those nomads would be in fact the main beneficiary of Silk Road trade.

Well, that actually happened. Things started to change when the nomad shepherds of Central-South Asia started to have their tribes regimented as horseback archers by politico-military leaders such as Genghis Khan.

Welcome to the Mongol globalization. That was actually the fourth globalization in history, after the Syrian, the Persian and the Arab.    Under the Mongolian Ilkhanate, the Iranian plateau – once again playing a major role – linked China to the Armenian kingdom of Cilicia in the Mediterranean.

The Mongols didn’t go for a Silk Road monopoly. On the contrary: during Kublai Khan – and Marco Polo’s travels – the Silk Road was free and open. The Mongols only wanted caravans to pay a toll.

With the Turks, it was a completely different story. They consolidated Turkestan, from Central Asia to northwest China. The only reason Tamerlan did not annex India is that he died beforehand. But even the Turks did not want to shut down the Silk Road. They wanted to control it.

Venice lost its last direct Silk Road access in 1461, with the fall of Trebizond, which was still clinging to the Byzantine empire. With the Silk Road closed to the Europeans, the Turks – with an empire ranging from Central-South Asia to the Mediterranean – were convinced they now controlled trade between Europe and Asia.

Not so fast. Because that was when European kingdoms facing the Atlantic came up with the ultimate Plan B: a new maritime road to India.

And the rest – North Atlantic hegemony – is history.

Enlightened arrogance

The Enlightenment could not possibly box Asia inside its own rigid geometries. Europe ceased to understand Asia, proclaimed it was some sort of proteiform historical detritus and turned its undivided attention to “virgin,” or “promised” lands elsewhere on the planet.

We all know how England, from the 18th century onwards, took control of the entire trans-oceanic routes and turned North Atlantic supremacy into a lone superpower game – till the mantle was usurped by the US.

Yet all the time there has been counter-pressure from the Eurasian Heartland powers. That’s the stuff of international relations for the past two centuries – peaking in the young 21st century into what could be simplified as The Revenge of the Heartland against Sea Power. But still, that does not tell the whole story.

Rationalist hegemony in Europe progressively led to an incapacity to understand diversity – or The Other, as in Asia. Real Euro-Asia dialogue – the de facto true engine of history – had been dwindling for most of the past two centuries.

Europe owes its DNA not only to much-hailed Athens and Rome – but to Byzantium as well. But for too long not only the East but also the European East, heir to Byzantium, became incomprehensible, quasi incommunicado with Western Europe, or submerged by pathetic clichés.

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), as in the Chinese-led New Silk Roads, are a historical game-changer in infinite ways. Slowly and surely, we are evolving towards the configuration of an economically interlinked group of top Eurasian land powers, from Shanghai to the Ruhr valley, profiting in a coordinated manner from the huge technological know-how of Germany and China and the enormous energy resources of Russia.

The Raging 2020s may signify the historical juncture when this bloc surpasses the current, hegemonic Atlanticist bloc.

Now compare it with the prime US strategic objective at all times, for decades: to establish, via myriad forms of divide and rule, that relations between Germany, Russia and China must be the worst possible.

No wonder strategic fear was glaringly visible at the NATO summit in London last month, which called for ratcheting up pressure on Russia-China. Call it the late Zbigniew “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski’s ultimate, recurrent nightmare.

Germany soon will have a larger than life decision to make. It’s like this was a renewal – in way more dramatic terms – of the Atlanticist vs Ostpolitik debate. German business knows that the only way for a sovereign Germany to consolidate its role as a global export powerhouse is to become a close business partner of Eurasia.

In parallel, Moscow and Beijing have come to the conclusion that the  US trans-oceanic strategic ring can only be broken through the actions of a concerted block: BRI, Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), BRICS+ and the BRICS’ New Development Bank (NDB), the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

Middle East pacifier

The Ancient Silk Road was not a single camel caravan route but an inter-communicating maze. Since the mid-1990s I’ve had the privilege to travel almost every important stretch – and then, one day, you see the complete puzzle. The New Silk Roads, if they fulfill their potential, pledge to do the same.

Maritime trade may be eventually imposed – or controlled – by a global naval superpower. But overland trade can only prosper in peace. Thus the New Silk Roads potential as The Great Pacifier in Southwest Asia – what the Western-centric view calls the Middle East.

The Middle East (remember Palmyra) was always a key hub of the Ancient Silk Roads, the great overland axis of Euro-Asia trade going all the way to the Mediterranean.

For centuries, a quartet of regional powers – Egypt, Syria, Mesopotamia (now Iraq) and Persia (now Iran) – have been fighting for hegemony over the whole area from the Nile delta to the Persian Gulf. More recently, it has been a case of external hegemony: Ottoman Turk, British and American.

So delicate, so fragile, so immensely rich in culture, no other region in the world has been, continually, since the dawn of history, an absolutely key zone. Of course, the Middle East was also a crisis zone even before oil was found (the Babylonians, by the way, already knew about it).

The Middle East is a key stop in the 21st century, trans-oceanic supply chain routes – thus its geopolitical importance for the current superpower, among other geoeconomic, energy-related reasons. But its best and brightest know the Middle East does not need to remain a center of war, or intimations of war, which, incidentally, affect three of those historical, regional powers of the quartet (Syria, Iraq and Iran).

What the New Silk Roads are proposing is wide-ranging, economic, interlinked integration from East Asia, through Central Asia, to Iran, Iraq and Syria all the way to the Eastern Mediterranean. Just like the Ancient Silk Roads. No wonder vested War Party interests are so uncomfortable with this real peace “threat.”

 

US claims it has right to attack Iran is not ‘restoration of deterrence,’ it’s return to the Wild West

 

Donald Trump is not the first US president to be accused of using military force illegally. But this White House seems to be giving Trump greater executive license to kill – and to start wars.

This week, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper in a media interview claimed the US has the right under Article II of its Constitution to attack Iranian territory in response to offensive action by Iranian-backed militia in Iraq.There has been a reported surge in rocket attacks on US bases in Iraq following the killing of General Soleimani and his companion, the Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

In Esper’s reasoning, the US would have the right to launch airstrikes on Iran. And in Trump’s reasoning, he does not have to seek authority from Congress.

Canada-based war crimes lawyer Christopher Black comments: “Esper’s claim is incorrect because all that Article II does is make the president the commander of the armed forces. It does not give him the right to attack any nation without the consent of the Congress nor murder foreigners in foreign countries, nor violate its international legal obligations under the UN Charter and other covenants that are considered also to be part of US domestic law.

Black added: “Further, US claims of self-defense are also false as international law does not give authority to a nation to launch an attack on another country it is not at war [with].”

It’s tantamount to a policy of shoot now, and only later answer questions about it. In Trump’s case, he’s not even prepared to answer questions as can be seen from his defiance in the face of criticism about the drone-killing of Iranian General Soleimani.

With growing doubts about the initial justification for the president’s order of that assassination, Trump has subsequently lashed out and asserted that even if Soleimani’s alleged threats were not “imminent,” he still deserved to be killed by US forces in Baghdad on January 3.

The earlier claim by Trump and his aides that there was an “imminent threat” to US personnel in Iraq stemming from Gen. Soleimani’s liaison with Shia militia was a key qualifier for the presidential executive order of the killing. Team Trump argued that the president had to make a quick decision as commander-in-chief, thereby bypassing congressional notification, as the 1973 War Powers Act instructs.

But now it turns out the supposed threat posed by Soleimani was not so imminent. Indeed, Pentagon chief Mark Esper contradicted the president in a media interview saying he did not see intelligence evidence that an attack was about to take place against four US embassies in the Middle East. Having the “imminent threat” argument undermined, Trump has nevertheless blurted it doesn’t matter anyway. Soleimani was a legitimate target because of his “horrible record.

Hold on a moment. This is getting into extremely dangerous legal territory, whereby an American president is claiming to have the authority to kill a foreign leader without any evidence or indictment. That’s the conduct of the Wild West, not the leader of a constitutional state bound by legal obligations to international laws that specifically outlaw such conduct.

The International Association of Democratic Lawyers, in an assessment of the Soleimani incident, condemned it as an illegal extrajudicial killing and an act of aggression by the US toward Iran and Iraq. They pointed out that no evidence was brought against Soleimani. He was murdered merely on the say-so of the American president.

Moreover, the international lawyers’ group noted the killing was in violation of US and international law. US law is bound by its commitment to the UN Charter which explicitly prohibits the use of military force against another state without the approval of the UN Security Council.

Such unilateral violence may be permitted only if there is clear evidence that a state is acting in self-defense. And the would-be self-defense measure must be proportionate. Clearly, in the case of Gen. Soleimani, neither of these exceptions were valid.

The allegations against the Quds Force commander of having blood on his hands for “thousands” of US troops and “millions” of civilians is more in the realm of American propaganda. It is essentially hearsay which in no way meets any standard of due legal process.

Soleimani helped organize Iranian-backed militia which were effective in defeating terrorist militia in Syria and Iraq trying to overthrow the governments. The US role and that of its allies toward the terror groups is ambiguous at best, if not covertly working with the militants, despite official talk about “fighting terrorism.”

Iranian-backed militia in Iraq have opposed US forces. But let’s not forget, American forces are in Iraq due to an illegal invasion of that country in 2003. When Trump and his aides denounce Soleimani for US troop deaths, they conveniently forget that their own country is guilty of war crimes in Iraq, and in Syria from its illegal presence there.

The US Congress is right to be concerned about Trump’s increasing arrogation of powers for using lethal force against foreign targets.

However, his predecessor, Barack Obama, was a big practitioner of ordering drone-assassinations against terror suspects abroad. Almost every American president has deployed warplanes or missiles against foreign states in ways that breached constitutional law or the UN Charter. Remember Bill Clinton fired off cruise missiles on Sudan at the height of his sex scandal with Monica Lewinsky.

During the 1970s, the Senate Church Committee into abuse of executive powers and assassination of foreign leaders under the aegis of the CIA led to tighter constitutional controls on presidential powers for ordering military actions.

The use of illegal military force by the White House is nothing new. But what is different under Trump is the way his administration is unwinding controls over lawlessness, making it easier for assassination and acts of war to be done on a presidential whim.

Thus, under Trump, the US leadership is rapidly evolving a working policy and rationale for justifying assassination and war. US lawlessness is spinning out of control by the day.

The fiendish logic goes way beyond the danger of the US starting yet another war in the Middle East, this time with Iran.

This week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave a major speech in which he put the assassination of the Iranian and Iraqi generals in the wider context of “strategic deterrence” against all adversaries. Pompeo explicitly linked the killings to the US policy of confronting Russia and China.

Tellingly, his speech was titled: ‘The Restoration of Deterrence: The Iranian Example’.

Pompeo summed up by saying: “We have re-established deterrence…We saw, not just in Iran, but in other places, too, where American deterrence was weak. We watched Russia’s 2014 occupation of the Crimea and support for aggression against Ukraine because deterrence had been undermined. We have resumed lethal support to the Ukrainian military. China’s island building, too, in the South China Sea, and its brazen attempts to coerce American allies undermined deterrence.”

The lawless reasoning here is appalling. If the Trump administration wants to use murderous force against adversaries for so-called “deterrence,” then it will, according to Pompeo. That apparently includes Russia and China.

The UN Charter was created to stop a repeat of World War II. Under Trump, the Charter, as well as other international laws and even the US’ own laws forbidding acts of war are being ignored.

Welcome to the Wild West.

Finian Cunningham 

Preparing the Chessboard for the “Clash of Civilizations”: Divide, Conquer and Rule the “New Middle East”

The name “Arab Spring” is a catch phrase concocted in distant offices in Washington, London, Paris, and Brussels by individuals and groups who, other than having some superficial knowledge of the region, know very little about the Arabs. What is unfolding amongst the Arab peoples is naturally a mixed package. Insurgency is part of this package as is opportunism. Where there is revolution, there is always counter-revolution.

The upheavals in the Arab World are not an Arab “awakening” either; such a term implies that the Arabs have always been sleeping while dictatorship and injustice has been surrounding them. In reality the Arab World, which is part of the broader Turko-Arabo-Iranic World, has been filled with frequent revolts that have been put down by the Arab dictators in coordination with countries like the United States, Britain, and France. It has been the interference of these powers that has always acted as a counter-balance to democracy and it will continue to do so.

Divide and Conquer: How the First “Arab Spring” was Manipulated

The plans for reconfiguring the Middle East started several years before the First World War. It was during the First World War, however, that the manifestation of these colonial designs could visibly be seen with the “Great Arab Revolt” against the Ottoman Empire.

Despite the fact that the British, French, and Italians were colonial powers which had prevented the Arabs from enjoying any freedom in countries like Algeria, Libya, Egypt, and Sudan, these colonial powers managed to portray themselves as the friends and allies of Arab liberation.

During the “Great Arab Revolt” the British and the French actually used the Arabs as foot soldiers against the Ottomans to further their own geo-political schemes. The secret Sykes–Picot Agreement between London and Paris is a case in point. France and Britain merely managed to use and manipulate the Arabs by selling them the idea of Arab liberation from the so-called “repression” of the Ottomans.

In reality, the Ottoman Empire was a multi-ethnic empire. It gave local and cultural autonomy to all its peoples, but was manipulated into the direction of becoming a Turkish entity. Even the Armenian Genocide that would ensue in Ottoman Anatolia has to be analyzed in the same context as the contemporary targeting of Christians in Iraq as part of a sectarian scheme unleashed by external actors to divide the Ottoman Empire, Anatolia, and the citizens of the Ottoman Empire.

After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, it was London and Paris which denied freedom to the Arabs, while sowing the seeds of discord amongst the Arab peoples. Local corrupt Arab leaders were also partners in the project and many of them were all too happy to become clients of Britain and France. In the same sense, the “Arab Spring” is being manipulated today. The U.S., Britain, France, and others are now working with the help of corrupt Arab leaders and figures to restructure the Arab World and Africa.

The Yinon Plan: Order from Chaos…

The Yinon Plan, which is a continuation of British stratagem in the Middle East, is an Israeli strategic plan to ensure Israeli regional superiority. It insists and stipulates that Israel must reconfigure its geo-political environment through the balkanization of the surrounding Arab states into smaller and weaker states.

Israeli strategists viewed Iraq as their biggest strategic challenge from an Arab state. This is why Iraq was outlined as the centerpiece to the balkanization of the Middle East and the Arab World. In Iraq, on the basis of the concepts of the Yinon Plan, Israeli strategists have called for the division of Iraq into a Kurdish state and two Arab states, one for Shiite Muslims and the other for Sunni Muslims. The first step towards establishing this was a war between Iraq and Iran, which the Yinon Plan discusses.

The Atlantic, in 2008, and the U.S. military’s Armed Forces Journal, in 2006, both published widely circulated maps that closely followed the outline of the Yinon Plan. Aside from a divided Iraq, which the Biden Plan also calls for, the Yinon Plan calls for a divided Lebanon, Egypt, and Syria. The partitioning of Iran, Turkey, Somalia, and Pakistan also all fall into line with these views. The Yinon Plan also calls for dissolution in North Africa and forecasts it as starting from Egypt and then spilling over into Sudan, Libya, and the rest of the region.

Securing the Realm: Redefining the Arab World…

Although tweaked, the Yinon Plan is in motion and coming to life under the “Clean Break.” This is through a policy document written in 1996 by Richard Perle and the Study Group on “A New Israeli Strategy Toward 2000” for Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel at the time. Perle was a former Pentagon under-secretary for Roland Reagan at the time and later a U.S. military advisor to George W. Bush Jr. and the White House. Aside from Perle, the rest of the members of the Study Group on “A New Israeli Strategy Toward 2000” consisted of James Colbert (Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs), Charles Fairbanks Jr. (Johns Hopkins University), Douglas Feith (Feith and Zell Associates), Robert Loewenberg (Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies), Jonathan Torop (The Washington Institute for Near East Policy), David Wurmser (Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies), and Meyrav Wurmser (Johns Hopkins University). A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm is the full name of this 1996 Israel policy paper.

In many regards, the U.S. is executing the objectives outlined in Tel Aviv’s 1996 policy paper to secure the “realm.” Moreover, the term “realm” implies the strategic mentality of the authors. A realm refers to either the territory ruled by a monarch or the territories that fall under a monarch’s reign, but are not physically under their control and have vassals running them. In this context, the word realm is being used to denote the Middle East as the kingdom of Tel Aviv. The fact that Perle, someone who has essentially been a career Pentagon official, helped author the Israeli paper also makes one ask if the conceptualized sovereign of the realm is either Israel, the United States, or both?

Securing the Realm: The Israeli Blueprints to Destabilize Damascus

The 1996 Israeli document calls for “rolling back Syria” sometime around the year 2000 or afterward by pushing the Syrians out of Lebanon and destabilizing the Syrian Arab Republic with the help of Jordan and Turkey. This has respectively taken place in 2005 and 2011. The 1996 document states: “Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq — an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right — as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions.” [1]

As a first step towards creating an Israeli-dominated “New Middle East” and encircling Syria, the 1996 document calls for removing President Saddam Hussein from power in Baghdad and even alludes to the balkanization of Iraq and forging a strategic regional alliance against Damascus that includes a Sunni Muslim “Central Iraq.” The authors write: “But Syria enters this conflict with potential weaknesses: Damascus is too preoccupied with dealing with the threatened new regional equation to permit distractions of the Lebanese flank. And Damascus fears that the ‘natural axis’ with Israel on one side, central Iraq and Turkey on the other, and Jordan, in the center would squeeze and detach Syria from the Saudi Peninsula. For Syria, this could be the prelude to a redrawing of the map of the Middle East which would threaten Syria’s territorial integrity.” [2]

Perle and the Study Group on “A New Israeli Strategy Toward 2000” also call for driving the Syrians out of Lebanon and destabilizing Syria by using Lebanese opposition figures. The document states: “[Israel must divert] Syria’s attention by using Lebanese opposition elements to destabilize Syrian control of Lebanon.” [3] This is what would happen in 2005 after the Hariri Assassination that helped launch the so-called “Cedar Revolution” and create the vehemently anti-Syrian March 14 Alliance controlled by the corrupt Said Hariri.

The document also calls for Tel Aviv to “take [the] opportunity to remind the world of the nature of the Syrian regime.” [4] This clearly falls into the Israeli strategy of demonizing its opponents through using public relations (PR) campaigns. In 2009, Israeli news media openly admitted that Tel Aviv through its embassies and diplomatic missions had launched a global campaign to discredit the Iranian presidential elections before they even took place through a media campaign and organizing protests in front of Iranian embassies. [5]

The document also mentions something that resembles what is currently going on in Syria. It states: “Most important, it is understandable that Israel has an interest supporting diplomatically, militarily and operationally Turkey’s and Jordan’s actions against Syria, such as securing tribal alliances with Arab tribes that cross into Syrian territory and are hostile to the Syrian ruling elite.” [6] With the 2011 upheaval in Syria, the movement of insurgents and the smuggling of weapons through the Jordanian and Turkish borders has become a major problem for Damascus.

In this context, it is no surprise that Arial Sharon and Israel told Washington to attack Syria, Libya, and Iran after the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq. [7] Finally, it is worth knowing that the Israeli document also advocated for pre-emptive war to shape Israel’s geo-strategic environment and to carve out the “New Middle East.” [8] This is a policy that the U.S. would also adopt in 2001.

The Eradication of the Christian Communities of the Middle East

It is no coincidence that Egyptian Christians were attacked at the same time as the South Sudan Referendum and before the crisis in Libya. Nor is it a coincidence that Iraqi Christians, one of the world’s oldest Christian communities, have been forced into exile, leaving their ancestral homelands in Iraq. Coinciding with the exodus of Iraqi Christians, which occurred under the watchful eyes of U.S. and British military forces, the neighbourhoods in Baghdad became sectarian as Shiite Muslims and Sunni Muslims were forced by violence and death squads to form sectarian enclaves. This is all tied to the Yinon Plan and the reconfiguration of the region as part of a broader objective.

In Iran, the Israelis have been trying in vain to get the Iranian Jewish community to leave. Iran’s Jewish population is actually the second largest in the Middle East and arguably the oldest undisturbed Jewish community in the world. Iranian Jews view themselves as Iranians who are tied to Iran as their homeland, just like Muslim and Christian Iranians, and for them the concept that they need to relocate to Israel because they are Jewish is ridiculous.

In Lebanon, Israel has been working to exacerbate sectarian tensions between the various Christian and Muslim factions as well as the Druze. Lebanon is a springboard into Syria and the division of Lebanon into several states is also seen as a means for balkanizing Syria into several smaller sectarian Arab states. The objectives of the Yinon Plan are to divide Lebanon and Syria into several states on the basis of religious and sectarian identities for Sunni Muslims, Shiite Muslims, Christians, and the Druze. There could also be objectives for a Christian exodus in Syria too.

The new head of the Maronite Catholic Syriac Church of Antioch, the largest of the autonomous Eastern Catholic Churches, has expressed his fears about a purging of Arab Christians in the Levant and Middle East. Patriarch Mar Beshara Boutros Al-Rahi and many other Christian leaders in Lebanon and Syria are afraid of a Muslim Brotherhood takeover in Syria. Like Iraq, mysterious groups are now attacking the Christian communities in Syria. The leaders of the Christian Eastern Orthodox Church, including the Eastern Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, have also all publicly expressed their grave concerns. Aside from the Christian Arabs, these fears are also shared by the Assyrian and Armenian communities, which are mostly Christian.

Sheikh Al-Rahi was recently in Paris where he met President Nicolas Sarkozy. It is reported that the Maronite Patriarch and Sarkozy had disagreements about Syria, which prompted Sarkozy to say that the Syrian regime will collapse. Patriarch Al-Rahi’s position was that Syria should be left alone and allowed to reform. The Maronite Patriarch also told Sarkozy that Israel needed to be dealt with as a threat if France legitimately wanted Hezbollah to disarm.

Because of his position in France, Al-Rahi was instantly thanked by the Christian and Muslim religious leaders of the Syrian Arab Republic who visited him in Lebanon. Hezbollah and its political allies in Lebanon, which includes most the Christian parliamentarians in the Lebanese Parliament, also lauded the Maronite Patriarch who later went on a tour to South Lebanon.

Sheikh Al-Rahi is now being politically attacked by the Hariri-led March 14 Alliance, because of his stance on Hezbollah and his refusal to support the toppling of the Syrian regime. A conference of Christian figures is actually being planned by Hariri to oppose Patriarch Al-Rahi and the stance of the Maronite Church. Since Al-Rahi announced his position, the Tahrir Party, which is active in both Lebanon and Syria, has also started targeting him with criticism. It has also been reported that high-ranking U.S. officials have also cancelled their meetings with the Maronite Patriarch as a sign of their displeasure about his positions on Hezbollah and Syria.

The Hariri-led March 14 Alliance in Lebanon, which has always been a popular minority (even when it was a parliamentary majority), has been working hand-in-hand with the U.S., Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the groups using violence and terrorism in Syria. The Muslim Brotherhood and other so-called Salafist groups from Syria have been coordinating and holding secret talks with Hariri and the Christian political parties in the March 14 Alliance. This is why Hariri and his allies have turned on Cardinal Al-Rahi. It was also Hariri and the March 14 Alliance that brought Fatah Al-Islam into Lebanon and have now helped some of its members escape to go and fight in Syria.

There are unknown snippers who are targeting Syrian civilians and the Syrian Army with a view of causing chaos and internal fighting. The Christian communities in Syria are also being targeted by unknown groups. It is very likely that the attackers are a coalition of U.S., French, Jordanian, Israeli, Turkish, Saudi, and Khalij (Gulf) Arab forces working with some Syrians on the inside.

A Christian exodus is being planned for the Middle East by Washington, Tel Aviv, and Brussels. It has been reported that Sheikh Al-Rahi was told in Paris by President Nicolas Sarkozy that the Christian communities of the Levant and Middle East can resettle in the European Union. This is no gracious offer. It is a slap in the face by the same powers that have deliberately created the conditions to eradicate the ancient Christian communities of the Middle East. The aim appears to be either the resettling of the Christian communities outside of the region or demarcate them into enclaves. Both could be objectives.

This project is meant to delineate the Arab nations along the lines of being exclusively Muslim nations and falls into accordance with both the Yinon Plan and the geo-political objectives of the U.S. to control Eurasia. A major war may be its outcome. Arab Christians now have a lot in common with black-skinned Arabs.

Re-Dividing Africa: The Yinon Plan is very Much Alive and at Work…

In regards to Africa, Tel Aviv sees securing Africa as part of its broader periphery. This broader or so-called “new periphery” became a basis of geo-strategy for Tel Aviv after 1979 when the “old periphery” against the Arabs that included Iran, which was one of Israel’s closest allies during the Pahlavi period, buckled and collapsed with the 1979 Iranian Revolution. In this context, Israel’s “new periphery” was conceptualized with the inclusion of countries like Ethiopia, Uganda, and Kenya against the Arab states and the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is why Israel has been so deeply involved in the balkanization of Sudan.

In the same context as the sectarian divisions in the Middle East, the Israelis have outlined plans to reconfigure Africa. The Yinon Plan seeks to delineate Africa on the basis of three facets:

(1) ethno-linguistics;

(2) skin-colour; and, finally,

(3) religion. To secure the realm, it also so happens that the the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies (IASPS), the Israeli think-tank that included Perle, also pushed for the creating of the Pentagon’s U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM).

An attempt to separate the merging point of an Arab and African identity is underway. It seeks to draw dividing lines in Africa between a so-called “Black Africa” and a supposedly “non-Black” North Africa. This is part of a scheme to create a schism in Africa between what are assumed to be “Arabs” and so-called “Blacks.”

This objective is why the ridiculous identity of an “African South Sudan” and an “Arab North Sudan” have been nurtured and promoted. This is also why black-skinned Libyans have been targeted in a campaign to “colour cleanse” Libya. The Arab identity in North Africa is being de-linked from its African identity. Simultaneously there is an attempt to eradicate the large populations of “black-skinned Arabs” so that there is a clear delineation between “Black Africa” and a new “non-Black” North Africa, which will be turned into a fighting ground between the remaining “non-Black” Berbers and Arabs.

In the same context, tensions are being fomented between Muslims and Christians in Africa, in such places as Sudan and Nigeria, to further create lines and fracture points. The fuelling of these divisions on the basis of skin-colour, religion, ethnicity, and language is intended to fuel disassociation and disunity in Africa. This is all part of a broader African strategy of cutting North Africa off from the rest of the African continent.

Preparing the Chessboard for the “Clash of Civilizations”

It is at this point that all the pieces have to be put together and the dots have to be connected.

The chessboard is being staged for a “Clash of Civilizations” and all the chess pieces are being put into place.  The Arab World is in the process of being cordoned off and sharp delineation lines are being created. These lines of delineation are replacing the seamless lines of transition between different ethno-linguistic, skin-colour, and religious groups.

Under this scheme, there can no longer be a melding transition between societies and countries. This is why the Christians in the Middle East and North Africa, such as the Copts, are being targeted. This is also why black-skinned Arabs and black-skinned Berbers, as well as other North African population groups which are black-skinned, are facing genocide in North Africa.

After Iraq and Egypt, the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and the Syrian Arab Republic are both important points of regional destabilization in North Africa and Southeast Asia respectively. What happens in Libya will have rippling effects on Africa, as what happens in Syria will have rippling effects on Southeast Asia and beyond. Both Iraq and Egypt, in connection with what the Yinon Plan states, have acted as primers for the destabilization of both these Arab states.

What is being staged is the creation of an exclusively “Muslim Middle East” area (excluding Israel) that will be in turmoil over Shiite-Sunni fighting. A similar scenario is being staged for a “non-Black North Africa” area which will be characterized by a confrontation between Arabs and Berber. At the same time, under the “Clash of Civilizations” model, the Middle East and North Africa are slated to simultaneously be in conflict with the so-called “West” and “Black Africa.”

This is why both Nicolas Sarzoky, in France, and David Cameron, in Britain, made back-to-back declarations during the start of the conflict in Libya that multiculturalism is dead in their respective Western European societies. [9] Real multiculturalism threatens the legitimacy of the NATO war agenda. It also constitutes an obstacle to the implementation of the “Clash of Civilizations” which constitutes the cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy.

In this regard, Zbigniew Brzezinski, former U.S. National Security Advisor, explains why multiculturalism is a threat to Washington and its allies: “[A]s America becomes an increasingly multicultural society, it may find it more difficult to fashion a consensus on foreign policy issues [e.g., war with the Arab World, China, Iran, or Russia and the former Soviet Union], except in the circumstances of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat. Such a consensus generally existed throughout World War II and even during the Cold War [and exists now because of the ‘Global War on Terror’].” [10] Brzezinski’s next sentence is the qualifier of why populations would oppose or support wars: “[The consensus] was rooted, however, not only in deeply shared democratic values, which the public sensed were being threatened, but also in a cultural and ethnic affinity for the predominantly European victims of hostile totalitarianisms.” [11]

Risking being redundant, it has to be mentioned again that it is precisely with the intention of breaking these cultural affinities between the Middle East-North Africa (MENA) region and the so-called “Western World” and sub-Saharan Africa that Christians and black-skinned peoples are being targeted.

Ethnocentrism and Ideology: Justifying Today’s “Just Wars”

In the past, the colonial powers of Western Europe would indoctrinate their people. Their objective was to acquire popular support for colonial conquest. This took the form of spreading Christianity and promoting Christian values with the support of armed merchants and colonial armies.

At the same time, racist ideologies were put forth. The people whose lands were colonized were portrayed as “sub-human,” inferior, or soulless. Finally, the “White Man’s burden” of taking on a mission of civilizing the so-called “uncivilized peoples of the world” was used. This cohesive ideological framework was used to portray colonialism as a “just cause.” The latter in turn was used to provide legitimacy to the waging of “just wars” as a means to conquering and “civilizing” foreign lands.

Today, the imperialist designs of the United States, Britain, France, and Germany have not changed. What has changed is the pretext and justification for waging their neo-colonial wars of conquest. During the colonial period, the narratives and justifications for waging war were accepted by public opinion in the colonizing countries, such as Britain and France. Today’s “just wars” and “just causes” are now being conducted under the banners of women’s rights, human rights, humanitarianism, and democracy.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is an award-winning writer from Ottawa, Canada. He is a Sociologist and Research Associate at the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Montreal. He was a witness to the “Arab Spring” in action in North Africa. While on the ground in Libya during the NATO bombing campaign he was Special Correspondent for the syndicated investigative KPFA program Flashpoints, which is aired from Berkeley, California.

NOTES

[1] Richard Perle et al., A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm (Washington, D.C. and Tel Aviv: Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies), 1996.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Barak Ravid, “Israeli diplomats told to take offensive in PR war against Iran,” Haaretz, June 1, 2009.
[6] Perle et al., Clean Break, op. cit.
[7] Aluf Benn, “Sharon says U.S. should also disarm Iran, Libya and Syria,” Haaretz, September 30, 2009.
[8] Richard Perle et al., Clean Break, op. cit.
[9] Robert Marquand, “Why Europe is turning away from multiculturalism,” Christian Science Monitor, March 4, 2011.
[10] Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives (New York: Basic Books October 1997), p.211.
[11] Ibid.

 

Permanent War and Poverty or Widespread Truth Awareness?

What are we really supporting when we refuse the truth and accept the war lies and the permanent war agenda?

We are supporting al Qaeda/ISIS, Empire’s proxies. We are supporting the military dictatorship of Washington-led NATO and the collapse of International Law.

We are supporting a New Fascist World Order and our subservience to supranational diktats.We are supporting the thirdworldization of our own political economies.

The Truth is deplatformed in this New Fascist Order. Politicians do not represent the people. Representative government is a projected perception, empty of substance.

Transnational corporations impose impoverishing neoliberal diktats, the “Washington Consensus”, at home and abroad. Privatization schemes impoverish domestic populations at the expense of the public sphere. Equal access to health care and schooling is disappeared. The industrial base is delocated to vassal stooge countries where human and labour rights are largely non-existent.

The Fascist world order creates holocausts but denies it all.

“Those with consciences,” wrote Gideon Polya in 2015:

“recently marked the 12th anniversary on 19 March 2015 of the illegal and war criminal US, UK and Australian invasion of Iraq in 2003  that was based on false assertions of Iraqi possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction, was conducted in the absence of  UN sanction  or Iraqi threat to the invading nations, and led to 2.7 million Iraqi deaths from  violence (1.5 million) or from violently-imposed deprivation (1.2 million). The West has now commenced its Seventh Iraq War since 1914 in over a century of Western violence in which Iraqi deaths from violence or violently-imposed deprivation have totalled  9 million. However  Western Mainstream media have resolutely ignored  the carnage, this tragically illustrating the adage ‘History ignored yields history repeated’. ” (1)

Permanent warfare and globalizing poverty are hallmarks of this dystopia, as is widespread despair.

“It’s not only the impoverishment of large sectors of the world population;” explains Prof. Michel Chossudovsky:

“It is precipitating people into total despair and it’s the destruction of the institutional fabric, the collapse of schools and hospitals which are closed down, the legal system disintegrating, borders are redefined.

Essentially this stage, which goes beyond impoverishment, is the transformation of countries into territories and we see it occurring in the Middle East. The objective for Iraq and Libya and Yemen is certainly to transform a country into a territory, and then you recolonize it. You’re in a very different environment to that which has prevailed until recently.” (2)

But it doesn’t have to be this way. The Axis of Resistance is fighting back against the war lies, the terrorism, the permanent warfare. It is fighting for international law, nation-state sovereignty and territorial integrity. It is fighting against globalized fascism, poverty, and despair.

Those of us in the West who still believe in the ideals of democracy and freedom need to denounce the NATO occupation of our lands, our minds, and our pocket books. We need to denounce wars of aggression, imperialism, and war lies. We need Pro-Life political economies, not Pro-Death diseconomies.

The choice is ours.

*

Mark Taliano is a Research Associate of the Center for Research on Globalization (CRG) and the author of Voices from Syria, Global Research Publishers, 2017. Visit the author’s website at https://www.marktaliano.net where this article was originally published.

Notes

(1) Dr. Gideon Polya, “An Iraqi Holocaust, 2.7 Million Iraqi Dead From Violence Or War-imposed Deprivation.” “ICH”, March 27, 2015, (http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article41378.htm) Accessed January 10, 2020.

(2) Prof. Michel Chossudovsky, “Neoliberalism and the New World Order. IMF-World Bank ‘Reforms’, The Role of Wall Street.” Global Research, 24 March, 2017 Guns and Butter 22 June 2016.
(https://www.globalresearch.ca/neoliberalism-and-the-new-world-order-imf-world-bank-reforms/5572157) Accessed 10 January, 2020.

الشيخ الشعراوى فى رثــــــــــاء جمال عبد الناصر

قد مات جمال وليس بعجيب أن يموت
فالناس كلهم يموتون
ولكن العجيب وهو ميـت أن يعيـش معنا
وقليل من الاحياء يعيشون
وخير الموت الا يغيب المفقود
وشر الحياة الموت فى مقبرة الوجود
وليس بالاربعين ينتهى الحداد على الثائر المثير
الملهَم الملهِم
والزعيم بلا زعم
ولو على قدره يكون الحداد لتخطى الميعاد الى نهاية الآبــاد
ولكن العجيب من ذلك اننا لو كنا منطقيين مع تسلس العجائب فيه لكان موته بلا حداد عليه
لاننا لم نفقد عطائنا منه
وحسب المفجوعين فيه فى العزاء
انه وهو ميت لايزال وقود الاحياء
لذلك يجب ان يكون ذكرنا له ولاء لا مجرد وفاء
لان الوفاء لماض مقدر فاندثر
ولكن الولاء لحاضر مستمر يزدهر فيثمر
لا اظن ان حيا فى هذا العصر يجهل مافعل عبد الناصر من افعال
وماخلق فيه من آمال
ولن اكرر عليكم ولكننى اقول انه بدأ الدائرة حين فاجأ الدنيا بالثورة الأم فاستقبله الناس باعراس شعب منصور على اثم وطغيان مقهور
وكان خير ماقلت مستقبلا به السمع هاتين البيتين
حييتها ثورة كالنار عارمة ………….ومصر بين محبور ومرتعد
شبت توزع بالقسطاس جذوتها …….فالشعب للنور والطغيان للهب
ثم انتقل البطل الى الدائرة الثانية من ابعاد حياته فانتفض العملاق العربى برأس متطاول الى السماء وقدمين راسخين فى الارض ومد يديه ليحدد وطنه العربى
بجغرافية الحق لا بخرائط الرق
فاستقرت انامل يمناه على الخليج العربى واستقرت انامل يسراه على المحيط الاطلسى
وظل يهدهد العروبة حتى شبت فكرة فى الرؤوس وتأججت عقيدة فى النفوس واصبحت نشيد على كل لسان
ولقد سمعت من اخى الدكتور زرقانة فكرته فى تلك الدائرة قبل فكرته فى الدائرة التى وصفها فى ” فلسفة الثورة ” الدائرة الثالثة لان الاسلام بالعروبة انساج وبها امتد
فلابد ان تتوحد العروبة لنصبح بنعمة الله اخوانا
حتى يكون بعث الاسلام على مثل ميلاده
فانه لايصلح آخر هذا الامر الا بما صلح به اوله
وقد قلت فى الوقت الذى قال فيه اعداء الاسلام أولا واعداء العروبة ثانيا بمبدا ” فرق تسد ” وكنت ايامها فى المملكة العربية السعودية ونشرت قصيدة فى صحيفة البلاد خرجت بالبنط العريض قلت فيها :
ياقوم هذا سبيل لامة التوحيد ………….فما العروبة الا الاسلام فى تنهيد
بالعرب ساحة ندوة …….. فى كل ناء بعيد
الغرب يعرف هذا ……… والغرب غير بليد
فرق تسد أخطائنا……..فلتبحثوا عن جديد
وحين دانت قلوب العرب للعقيدة عزت عليه بعض قوالبها
ولكن هل توقف الرجل ؟؟
لا
بل ينصرف ويقفز الى الدائرة الثانية وهى الدائرة الانسانية بكل مافيها من شيوع واجناس واموال ومبادىء ومذاهب ولقد اعانه على ذلك ايمانه العميق بكل عقائد الحق والخير والجمال
واعانه على ذلك اسلامه بكل مافيه من تعاون وتواد وتحاب وحرية واخاء ومساواة وانطلاق وطموح ليحقق المستخلف فى الارض مطلوب الله منه
وهو ان يستعمرها ويحملها الى افاق الرفاهية والحضارة والمدنية
كان رحمه الله كما قال اخوانه
امام كل ثورة تحررية بالايحاء والقدح ووراءها دائما بكل الامكانات والمنح
فوضع البطل بصماته الانسانية على التاريخ المعاصر
ولذلك لن تجرؤ قوة فى الارض ان تزحزح المظلومين عما لقنهم جمال من مبادىء للاباء على الضمير والانتفاض على الظلم والنهضة الى الامال الواسعة الوارفة
ولن تستطيع اى قوة فى الارض ان تسلب المكاسب التى ادتها انجازاته ولا ان تحجب الافاق التى اعنتها تطلعاته وبذلك يقضى على قلة الفراغ المزعومة بعده
ان الزعيم الذى يترك بعده فراغا زعيم انانى لانه يحكم بمبادىء من رأسه فاذا ما انتهى قضى على نظام اسسه
وهو زعيم انانى ايضا لانه يحب ان يفقد الخير بفقده
ولكن زعيمنا لم يكن من هذا الطراز لانه لم يكن زعيما فحسب انما كان
أستاذ زعامة
ولم يكن ثائرا فحسب
وانما كان معلم ثورة ودارس مبادىء
وكانت عبقريته فى غرس هذه المبادىء انه اشاعها فلم يجعلها خاصة بفئة دون فئة حتى مرغ بها نفوس كل واحد جتى يكون كل واحد صورة طبق الاصل مما عند الحاكمين
حتى لايخدع محكوم بعده بغفلة من حاكم …….. او جبروت من متسلط
وان امة فجعت فيه كل هذه الفجيعة اكدت كل ذلك واكدت صدقها فيما قالته له فى حياته
كلــــــنا نـــــــاصر
ولذلك نراها حزنت عليه اعمق الحزن ولكنها مع ذلك عرفت كيف تقبض على الزمام بحزم
اللهم اجعل لطفك فى قضائك رحمة واسعة ونعيما مقيما لعبدك جمال
الذى جعلت مطلعه فى فلسطين ومغربه فى فلسطين
ونسألك يا رب ان تقر روحه فى الخلود بتحريرها من خنازير البشر
وان توفقنا فى اتمام ماخطط له البطل الراحل من الآمال
وحــــدة عروبــة
وتمكيــن اســــلام
وسلام للانسانيـــة
واسألك يارب ان تجزيه الجزاء الاوفى على ماقدم لاسلامك من شيوع وتثبيت وانتشار واعلام
وعما صنعه فى الازهر الذى تطور به ليتطور مع الحياة ليجعل منه بحق منارة الدين وحملة رسالة الله
واخيرا جزى الله بالخير وحيا بالكرامة كل من اسف عليه وكل من تأسى به
وكل من اقتبس منه وكل من دعى له بخير
ووفق خلقه العظيم حتى يكون امتداد لجمال الكلمة الطيبة التى ضرب الله لها مثلا كشجرة طيبة اصلها ثابت وفرعها فى السماء تؤتى اكلها كل حين باذن ربها
والسلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

Iranian Revenge Will Be a Dish Best Served Cold By Scott Ritter

The assassination by the United States of Qassem Suleimani, a senior Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps general and commander of the Quds Force, an Iranian paramilitary force specializing in covert operations on foreign soil, has sent shock waves through the Middle East and around the globe.

The Trump administration has justified its action, citing unspecified intelligence that indicated Suleimani was in the process of finalizing plans for attacks on U.S. personnel and interests in the region, claiming that Suleimani’s death “saved American lives.” This narrative has been challenged by Lebanese officials familiar with Suleimani’s itinerary, noting that the Iranian general had been in Beirut on diplomatic business, and had travelled to Baghdad via a commercial air flight, where he had been diplomatically cleared to enter. These officials claim Suleimani was killed while riding in a convoy on his way from Baghdad International Airport into the city of Baghdad.

In any event, Suleimani’s death resonates in a region already on edge because of existing tensions between the U.S. and Iran. The Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, has announced three days of mourning for Suleimani, an indication of his status as national hero. Khamenei also vowed revenge on those who perpetrated the attack. Concern over imminent Iranian retaliation has prompted the State Department to order all American citizens to leave Iraq, and for U.S. forces in the region to be placed on the highest level of alert. Hundreds of American soldiers have been flown into the region as reinforcements, with thousands more standing by if needed.

For many analysts and observers, Iran and the U.S. are on the cusp of a major confrontation. While such an outcome is possible, the reality is that the Iranian policy of asymmetrical response to American aggression that had been put in place by Qassem Suleimani when he was alive is still in place today. While emotions run high in the streets of Iranian cities, with angry crowds demanding action, the Iranian leadership, of which Suleimani was a trusted insider, recognizes that any precipitous action on its part only plays into the hands of the United States. In seeking revenge for the assassination of Qassem Suleimani, Iran will most likely play the long game, putting into action the old maxim that revenge is a dish best served cold.

 

In many ways, the United States has already written the script regarding major aspects of an Iranian response. The diplomatic missions Suleimani may have been undertaking at the time of his death centered on gaining regional support for pressuring the United States to withdraw from both Syria and Iraq. Of the two, Iraq was, and is, the highest priority, if for no other reason that there can be no sustained U.S. military presence in Syria without the existence of a major U.S. military presence in Iraq. Suleimani had been working with sympathetic members of the Iraqi Parliament to gain support for legislation that would end Iraq’s support for U.S. military forces operating on Iraqi soil. Such legislation was viewed by the United States as a direct threat to its interests in both Iraq and the region.

The U.S. had been engaged in a diplomatic tug of war with Iran to sway Iraqi politicians regarding such a vote. However, this effort was dealt a major blow when Washington conducted a bombing attack Sunday which targeted Khaitab Hezbollah along the border with Syria, killing scores of Iraqis. The justification for these attacks was retaliation for a series of rocket attacks on an American military base that had killed one civilian contractor and wounded several American soldiers. The U.S. blamed Iranian-backed Khaitab Hezbollah (no relation to the Lebanese Hezbollah group), for the attacks.

There are several problems with this narrative, first and foremost being that the bases bombed were reportedly more than 500 kilometers removed from the military base where the civilian contractor had been killed. The Iraqi units housed at the bombed facilities, including Khaitab Hezbollah, were engaged, reportedly, in active combat operations against ISIS remnants operating in both Iraq and Syria. This calls into question whether they would be involved in an attack against an American target. In fact, given the recent resurgence of ISIS, it is entirely possible that ISIS was responsible for the attack on the U.S. base, creating a scenario where the U.S. served as the de facto air force for ISIS by striking Iraqi forces engaged in anti-ISIS combat operations.

ISIS has emerged as a major feature in the Iranian thinking regarding how best to strike back at the US for Suleimani’s death. The Iranian government has gone out of its way to announce that, in the wake of Suleimani’s assassination, that Washington would be held fully responsible for any resurgence of ISIS in the region. Given the reality that Iran has been at the forefront of the war against ISIS, and that Iranian-backed Iraqi militias such as Khaitab Hezbollah have played a critical role in defeating ISIS on the ground, there is no doubt that Iran has the ability to take its foot off of the neck of a prostrate ISIS and facilitate their resurgence in areas under U.S. control.

Such an outcome would serve two purposes. First, U.S. forces would more than likely suffer casualties in the renewed fighting, especially since their primary proxy force, the Syrian Kurds, have been diminished in the aftermath of Turkey’s incursion late last year in northern Syria. More importantly, however, is the political cost that will be paid by President Trump, forced to explain away a resurgent ISIS during an election year after going on record that ISIS had been completely defeated.

But the real blow to American prestige would be for the Iraqi government to sever relations with the American military. The U.S. bombing of the Iraqi bases severely stressed U.S.-Iraqi relations, with the Iraqi government protesting the attacks as a violation of their sovereignty. One of the ways the Iraqi government gave voice to its displeasure was by facilitating access by protestors affiliated with Khaitab Hezbollah to gain access to the highly secure Green Zone in downtown Baghdad where the U.S. Embassy is situated, where they set fire to some buildings and destroyed property before eventually dispersing. While commentators and politicians have described the actions targeting the US Embassy as an “attack,” it was a carefully choreographed bit of theater designed to ease passions that had built up as a result of the U.S. attack.

Getting the Iraqi Parliament to formally reject the U.S. military presence on Iraqi soil has long been a strategic objective of Iran. As such, Iran would be best served by avoiding direct conflict with the US, and letting events take their expected course.

If Iraq votes to expel American forces, the Trump administration will be tied up trying to cope with how to manage that new reality. Add to that the problems that will come in confronting a resurgent ISIS, and it becomes clear that by simply doing nothing, Iran will have already gained the strategic upper hand in a post-Suleimani world. The Trump administration will find it hard to sustain the deployment of thousands of troops in the Middle East if there is no Iranian provocation to respond to. Over time, the American presence will lessen. Security will lapse. And, when the time is right, Iran will strike, most probably by proxy, but in a manner designed to inflict as much pain as possible.

Trump started this fight by recklessly ordering the assassination of a senior Iranian government official. The Trump administration now seeks to shape events in the region to best support a direct confrontation with Iran. Such an outcome is not in Iran’s best interests. Instead, they will erode Trump’s political base by embarrassing him in Iraq and with ISIS. Iran will respond, that much can be assured. But the time and place will be of their choosing, when the U.S. expects it least.

Scott Ritter is a former Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm, and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD. He is the author of several books, most recently, Deal of the Century: How Iran Blocked the West’s Road to War (2018).

 

This article was originally published by “The American Conservative” 

Europe Cravenly Appeases Trump

If the United States and Iran do go to war, it will be in no small part due to the cowardly appeasement of European powers in the face of American criminality.

Many commentators, including legal experts, have condemned the assassination of the Iranian military commander General Qasem Soleimani at Baghdad airport last week. It was brutal, cold-blooded murder carried out on the orders of US President Donald Trump.

To kill a senior official of a foreign state in such a dastardly way is an act of war and a war crime.

More especially because it has since emerged that Soleimani was on a diplomatic peace mission when he arrived at the airport, according to Iraqi prime minister Adel Abdul Mahdi. The Iraqi leader says Soleimani was engaged in efforts to tamp down regional tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran. What’s more, the Americans knew of this peace overture and apparently encouraged it. Then they turned around and murdered Soleimani.

The subsequent character assassination of Soleimani by US officials – that he had blood on his hands of millions of civilians, that he was a terror chief, that his killing was a “pre-emptive defensive action” – is a disgusting effort to justify an unjustifiable act of murder carried out by the Americans.

It is pathetic the way the US and European corporate news media have dutifully propagated the official American campaign to demonize Soleimani as some kind of terror mastermind. This ludicrous distortion of a brave military strategist who thwarted American and NATO regime-change operations in the Middle East completely whitewashes the gargantuan war crimes committed by Washington and its allies from their invasion and illegal occupation of countries, plunging those countries into bloody chaos, causing millions of deaths and unleashing tidal waves of terrorism.

For President Trump to claim that he ordered the murder of Soleimani in order to “stop a war” is an insult to common intelligence and morality. It is depraved.

Anyone with any sense of decency and a rudimentary knowledge of the wars and conflicts besetting the Middle East should be standing up and condemning the reckless American warmongering through this latest heinous state-sponsored murder.

What have the European leaders done? Instead of censuring Washington and upholding international law, they have indulged its barbarous behaviour.

Britain’s Boris Johnson, Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s Emmanuel Macron issued a belated joint statement in which they lent justification for the killing of General Soleimani. The Europeans essentially give a moralistic, legalistic cover for the drone assassination by repeating the vile American claims that the General was a malign actor.

“We have condemned the recent attacks on coalition forces in Iraq and are gravely concerned by the negative role Iran has played in the region, including through the IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] and the al Quds Force under the command of General Soleimani,” stated the European leaders.

This is a disgraceful lie. The Iranian commander was crucial in bringing about the defeat of terrorism that was plaguing Syria and Iraq, terrorism that was covertly supported by Washington and its allies, as the Russian ministry of defence acknowledged.

Separately, Britain’s Johnson made the following crass statement: “General Qassem Soleimani posed a threat to all our interests and was responsible for a pattern of disruptive, destabilizing behaviour in the region. Given the leading role he has played in actions that have led to the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians and western personnel, we will not lament his death.”

At no point have the European leaders found any spine to tell the Americans that they have gravely transgressed international law by their extrajudicial killing of the Iranian commander. Nor have they condemned Trump for criminal aggression leading to war.

No, what the spineless European heads have done is to amplify the American lies and defamation against Soleimani, and essentially have emboldened Trump to commit more war crimes. His insane threats about destroying Iran’s cultural centres have hardly caused a murmur of protest from Europeans governments.

Moreover, and risibly, what the Europeans see fit to do is lecture Iran to “de-escalate tensions” and to refrain from taking any retaliatory action. Under international law, Iran has a right to retaliate.

This European appeasement of Trump’s maniacal tyranny is an echo of the 1930s when European leaders pandered and appeased Nazi Germany in the face of mounting aggression by the Third Reich.

If all-out war breaks out between the US and Iran it will very possibly spiral into a catastrophic world war. Cowardly European leaders are again playing their abject role of facilitating war, not stopping it.

Finian Cunningham has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. He is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. He is also a musician and songwriter. For nearly 20 years, he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organisations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent.

This article was originally published by “Sputnik” –

 

Previous Older Entries