A lot of countries on the receiving end of U.S. hostility are making common cause together. From Pepe Escobar at unz.com:
The official visit to Russia by Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, at the invitation of Vladimir Putin, generated one of the most stunning geopolitical pics of the 21st century: Raisi performing his afternoon prayers at the Kremlin.
Arguably, more than the hours of solid discussions on geopolitical, geoeconomic, energy, trade, agriculture, transportation and aerospace dossiers, this visual will be imprinted all across the Global South as a fitting symbol of the ongoing, inexorable process of Eurasian integration.
Raisi went to Sochi and Moscow ready to offer Putin essential synergy in confronting a decaying, unipolar Empire increasingly prone to irrationalism. He made it clear at the start of his three hours of discussions with Putin: our renewed relationship should not be “short-term or positional – it will be permanent and strategic.”
Putin must have relished the torrents of meaning inbuilt in one of Raisi’s statements of fact: “We have been resisting the Americans for more than 40 years.”
Yet, much more productive, was “a document on strategic cooperation” between Iran and Russia that Raisi and his team presented to Russian officials.
Posted in Economics, Politics, Business, Foreign Policy, Technology, Economy, Eurasian Axis, Governments, Geopolitics
Tagged China, Eurasian integration, Iran, Russia
The tech giants are propaganda arms of the U.S. government. From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:
Anti-imperialist commentator Richard Medhurst reports that Instagram has deleted some 20 images from his account and given him a warning that he could face a permanent ban if he continues making similar posts. The posts in question are screenshots from a Twitter thread Medhurst made to commemorate the two-year anniversary of the Trump administration’s assassination of renowned Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani.
Go ahead and read the thread; here’s the hyperlink again. There’s nothing in there that comes anywhere remotely close to violating Instagram’s terms of service as they are written; Medhurst condemns the assassination and the bogus justifications provided for it, and discusses Soleimani’s crucial role in the fight against ISIS and Al Qaeda. The reason for Instagram’s censorship of Medhurst’s political speech is that Instagram’s parent company Meta (then called Facebook) determined after Soleimani’s assassination that anything which seems supportive of him constitutes a violation of US sanctions and must therefore be removed.
In 2019 the Trump administration designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, which was as hypocritical and arbitrary as any other government designating any other branch of another government’s military a terrorist organization. Despite this completely baseless designation, both the Meta-owned social media platforms Facebook and Instagram have been actively censoring political speech about Soleimani, who was the commander of the IRGC’s Quds force when he was assassinated. Medhurst reports that he has been censored on Instagram under the same justification for posting about Hamas as well.
Posted in Civil Liberties, Collapse, Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Government, History, Imperialism, Intelligence, Media, Military, Politics, Propaganda
Tagged Facebook, Instagram, Iran, Qassem Soleimani assassination
Israel wouldn’t be happy with U.S. policy towards Iran unless the U.S. ceased contact entirely. From Trita Parsi at responsiblestatecraft.org:
It’s not the nuclear deal that’s the problem for Tel Aviv, but the very idea that Washington and Tehran would reach any detente at all.
The New York Times Friday published an important analysis of ongoing U.S.-Israeli tensions over Washington’s efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which had succeeded in curbing Tehran’s nuclear program. As helpful as it is in understanding where things stand between Washington and Tel Aviv, however, the article misses a more fundamental takeaway from recent developments: Biden’s immense efforts to appease Israel in hopes of tempering the latter’s opposition to the JCPOA have not only failed but were likely based on faulty assumptions and were thus a mistake from the outset.
Diverging Israeli and American views on the JCPOA is nothing new. But senior officials on the Biden team thought President Obama could have handled the Israelis better by coordinating more closely with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and actually heeding some of his hawkish advice. This belief, however, is unfounded.
The fundamental question is this: Are Israel and America’s views on a negotiated settlement with Iran ultimately reconcilable or not? Was there— and is there now — a way to clinch a lasting deal with Iran on its nuclear program that also satisfies Israel?
The answer lies in understanding that the details of the deal are not the real problem. It’s rather the very idea of Washington and Tehran reaching any agreement that not only prevents Iran from developing a bomb, but also reduces U.S.-Iran tensions and lifts sanctions that have prevented Iran from enhancing its regional power.
China, Russia, and Iran are drawing nonnegotiable red lines, and they can make them stick. This is a new experience for a lot people within the U.S. government. From Alastair Crooke at strategic-culture.org:
It is the first time that others are dictating to the West rather than being instructed on how to conform to American red lines.
There was an almost audible sigh of relief echoing around western corridors. Though there were no breakthroughs in the Team Biden-Putin virtual meeting, the talks not surprisingly, were heavily focussed on the matter of immediate concern: Ukraine – amid widespread fears that the Ukrainian volcano might irrupt at any moment.
At the meeting: Agreed was the proposal to initiate ‘lower-level’ government-to-government discussion of Russia’s red lines and any halt to NATO expansion eastwards. Jake Sullivan, however, spilt a little cold water over that when he firmly emphasised that the U.S. had given no commitments on either issue. Biden (as advertised in advance), warned of strong economic and other measures should Russia intervene in Ukraine.
What was more notable however, was that the U.S. is ‘only’ threatening to sanction Russia, or to move more troops into the region, as opposed to posing explicit western and NATO militarily intervention in Ukraine. In earlier statements, Biden and other U.S. officials have been vague about what Washington’s response to a Russian invasion would be: warning repeatedly of ‘consequences’, even as it re-committed to Ukraine’s sovereignty.
So, should we all begin to breathe again? Actually, no. In fact, the immediacy of the Ukraine issue was always something of a red-herring: Russia has no desire to wade into the thick, cloying mud of a regional quagmire, however much some in the West would ‘love it’. And the Kiev forces are tired, bedraggled and demoralised from sitting in cold trenches along the Contact Line for months. They have little appetite to take on the Donbass militias (unless aided from the outside).
The Saudi Arabian government is just as nasty, if not nastier, than Iran’s, but it gets a free pass from the U.S. government. From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:
No matter the many crimes committed by the House of Saud, defenders rush to take up their cause. The Wall Street Journal’s Karen Elliott House was the latest. Readers can imagine tears cascading across her keyboard as she wrote about the plight of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which “is begging the U.S. for Patriot interceptors to defend itself against drone and missile attacks from the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen.”
House complained that this is bad for America for three reasons. “First, it endangers the Saudi people, who look to the US for protection.” Actually, what endangers the Saudi people is their reckless crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, and especially his continuing war of aggression against the KSA’s much poorer neighbor.
Nearly seven years ago Riyadh attacked Yemen to reinstate the latter’s pliable president, who had been ousted by a coalition of his predecessor and the armed Ansar Allah movement, known as the Houthis. The Saudi and Emirati air forces hit hundreds of civilian targets and killed thousands of civilians. The impact of the war – malnutrition and starvation, disease, poverty – killed hundreds of thousands more. Surprising the Saudis, Ansar Allah shot back. (Apparently, they believed winning wars without loss was just another royal prerogative.) The KSA should acknowledge that it has lost, halt its attacks, and seek a realistic negotiated settlement.
Next, House contended that administration policy “endangers an ally and benefits Iran.” In fact, Saudi Arabia has no treaty commitment. Its value to American security is much overstated. The Saudi military performed miserably in Yemen. With the Abrahamic Accords Riyadh should look to Israel rather than the US as its chief security partner. As for economics, the oil market has changed dramatically, Riyadh’s importance is much diminished, and the royals recently made clear that they will pump oil to suit their, not America’s, interest.
Posted in Civil Liberties, Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Governments, History, Military, Politics, War
Tagged Arms Sales, Iran, Oil, Saudi Arabia, Yemen
Joe Biden is holding a democracy party and neener, neener, neener, Russia, China, and Iran aren’t invited. From Finian Cunningham at strategic-culture.org:
Biden is trying to foist an anachronistic dichotomy on the world whereby geopolitical rivals China and Russia can be cast as malign.
Inviting some while not inviting others to your party is usually a ploy one associates with petulant, insecure teenagers. It’s my party, so there! U.S. President Joe Biden turned 79 last week – near enough an octogenarian – and in the same week announced the invitation list for a so-called “democracy summit” to be held on December 9-10.
China and Russia aren’t on the list. Neither are a lot of other countries many of whom happen to be on U.S. blacklists for sanctions. They include Cuba, Iran, Nicaragua, North Korea, Syria and Venezuela, among others.
The Summit for Democracy will see 110 participants attend an online teleconference hosted by President Biden. Delegates include heads of state, government leaders, diplomats and non-governmental organizations. The agenda, as outlined by the U.S. State Department, revolves around three main points: countering authoritarianism, fighting corruption, and upholding human rights.
The forum is shaping up to be a giant, rambling talking fest that will produce heaps of useless verbiage. If a legion of nations couldn’t come up with anything coherent and binding regarding climate change after two weeks of in-person meetings at the COP26 summit in Glasgow, it’s even more remote that two days of global teleconferencing in Washington will deliver anything of significance.
Russia has increased its influence and stature in the Middle East by becoming the honest broker to whom everyone looks. From Pepe Escobar at unz.com:
It’s impossible to understand the resumption of the JCPOA nuclear talks in Vienna without considering the serious inner turbulence of the Biden administration.
Everyone and his neighbor are aware of Tehran’s straightforward expectations: all sanctions – no exceptions – must be removed in a verifiable manner. Only then will the Islamic Republic reverse what it terms ‘remedial measures,’ that is, ramping up its nuclear program to match each new American ‘punishment.’
The reason Washington isn’t tabling a similarly transparent position is because its economic circumstances are, bizarrely, far more convoluted than Iran’s under sanctions. Joe Biden is now facing a hard domestic reality: if his financial team raises interest rates, the stock market will crash and the US will be plunged into deep economic distress.
Panicked Democrats are even considering the possibility of allowing Biden’s own impeachment by a Republican majority in the next Congress over the Hunter Biden scandal.
According to a top, non-partisan US national security source, there are three things the Democrats think they can do to delay the final reckoning:
First, sell some of the stock in the Strategic Oil Reserve in coordination with its allies to drive oil prices down and lower inflation.
Second, ‘encourage’ Beijing to devalue the yuan, thus making Chinese imports cheaper in the US, “even if that materially increases the US trade deficit. They are offering trading the Trump tariff in exchange.” Assuming this would happen, and that’s a major if, it would in practice have a double effect, lowering prices by 25 percent on Chinese imports in tandem with the currency depreciation.
Third, “they plan to make a deal with Iran no matter what, to allow their oil to re-enter the market, driving down the oil price.” This would imply the current negotiations in Vienna reaching a swift conclusion, because “they need a deal quickly. They are desperate.”
You won’t get a truthful answer to either question from anyone in Washington. From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:
America always has had political leaders who appeared to fear, even hate, peace. Teddy Roosevelt was one. However, at least Roosevelt got his hands dirty. Today the most fervent warmongers, unlike Roosevelt, typically never go near a battlefield.
However, they remain busy. The bipartisan War Party is pushing for confrontation and possible war with Iran, Russia, and China. Budgets are being adjusted, allies are being consulted, military plans are being drafted, threats are flying, and faux warriors are posturing. The Biden administration claims that it wants peace but is fueling the flames of all three potential conflicts.
Why should America to go to war in any of these cases, let alone all three? Frenzied US policymakers seemingly have gone mad, talking about war in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East simultaneously!
The latest crisis du jour is Iran. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, CENTCOM commander, perhaps feeling left out by frenzied press coverage of Russian pressure on Ukraine and Chinese threats against Taiwan, spent Thanksgiving week making his case for war.
The Iranians are “very close” to a nuclear weapon he contended, conflating acquiring enough nuclear materials for a bomb with being a nuclear weapons state. He noted that “Our president said they’re not going to have a nuclear weapon” – just as his predecessors insisted that North Korea wouldn’t get one.
Russia has cut a sweet deal with Iran for control of a large percentage of a Caspian Sea oil and natural gas field. This, of course, will increase its clout in European and world energy markets. From Simon Watkins at oilprice.com:
- Russia has managed to secure the largest share in Iran’s huge Chalous gas discovery, a move that could have huge economic and geopolitical consequences
- A senior Russian official believes this was the final act in securing control over the European energy market
- While Iran appears to have lost out economically on this deal, it will provide the Islamic Republic geopolitical support and the IRGC a nice slush fund
A deal finalized last week to develop Iran’s multi-trillion dollar new gas discovery, the Chalous field, will see Russian companies hold the major share in it, followed by Chinese companies, and only then Iranian ones, sources close to the deal exclusively told OilPrice.com. This is despite Chalous’s position unequivocally within the Iranian sector of the Caspian Sea, over which the Islamic Republic has complete sovereignty. Billions of dollars in additional capital investment are scheduled to come from financial institutions in Germany, Austria, and Italy, as the indications are that the size of Chalous’s gas reserves are even greater now than initially thought. According to one of the senior Russian officials involved in negotiating the deal: “This is the final act of securing control over the European energy market.”
In context, the wider Caspian basins area, including both onshore and offshore fields, is conservatively estimated to have around 48 billion barrels of oil and 292 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in proven and probable reserves. As exclusively covered and analyzed by OilPrice.com in 2019, Russia was instrumental in manipulating a change in the legal status of the Caspian basins area that meant that Iran’s share of the total revenues from the entire Caspian site was slashed from 50-50 split with the USSR that it had enjoyed as from the original agreement made in 1921 (on ‘fishing rights’) and amended in 1924 to include ‘any and all resources recovered’ to just 11.875 percent. Before the Chalous discovery, this meant that Iran would lose at least US$3.2 trillion in revenues from the lost value of energy products across the shared assets of the Caspian Sea resource going forward. Given the latest internal-use only estimates from Iran and Russia, this figure will now be a lot higher.
An important objective of Israel’s foreign policy is to get the US to do what Israel wants it to do. They are very good at it. From Philip Giraldi at strategic-culture.org:
The U.S. will be seen as endorsing the crime, resulting in yet another foreign policy disaster in the Middle East, Philip Giraldi writes.
Some might recall candidate Joe Biden’s pledge to work to rejoin the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) which was a multilateral agreement intended to limit Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon. The JCPOA was signed by President Barack Obama in 2015, when Biden was Vice President, and was considered one of the only foreign policy successes of his eight years in office. Other signatories to it were Britain, China, Germany, France, and Russia and it was endorsed by the United Nations. The agreement included unannounced inspections of Iranian nuclear facilities by the IAEA and, by all accounts, it was working and was a non-proliferation success story. In return for its cooperation Iran was to receive its considerable assets frozen in banks in the United States and was also to be relieved of the sanctions that had been placed on it by Washington and other governments.
The JCPOA crashed and burned in 2018 when President Donald Trump ordered U.S. withdrawal from the agreement, claiming that Iran was cheating and would surely move to develop a nuclear weapon as soon as the first phase of the agreement was completed. Trump, whose ignorance on Iran and other international issues was profound, had surrounded himself with a totally Zionist foreign policy team, including members of his own family, and had bought fully into the arguments being made by Israel as well as by Israel Lobby predominantly Jewish groups to include the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Trump’s time in office was spent pandering to Israel in every conceivable way, to include recognizing Jerusalem as the country’s capital, granting Israel the green light for creating and expanding illegal settlements on the West Bank and recognizing the occupied Syrian Golan Heights as part of Israel.