Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Russia House on the Indian Ocean....

A Russia House on the Indian Ocean....
By M K Bhadrakumar

The building blocks of the historic visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Pakistan in September have begun arriving in Islamabad. It is a poignant moment in the region's history and politics. This will be the first time a Russian president visits Pakistan since its birth in 1947.

The Russians are fabricating some hardy bricks for the mansion they hope to build in the region which forms a beachhead on the Indian Ocean - a mansion large enough for their friends in Pakistan and in the neighboring countries of India, Iran and Afghanistan to consort with them.

But then, the very sight of the Russian bricks infuriates the United States. The point is, this Russia House will stand bang on the way of the New Silk Road that the US has been planning, which also needs to run through Pakistan. If the access is blocked, it becomes problematic for the US to keep together the body and soul of the tens of thousands of its troops who were hoping to settle down in the Hindu Kush and Central Asia as pioneers in the "Wild West" of China's Xinjiang and on the "soft underbelly" of Russia.

In sum, the battle is joined for influencing Pakistan's future. The stakeholders are many and a keen struggle lies ahead, since at the core of it lies a host of other issues of profound consequence to world politics - energy security of the two big power-houses of Asia (China and India), the future of the New Middle East, and of course, the US strategy to contain Russia and China.

Moscow deputed a talented and vastly experienced diplomat to visit Pakistan in May to make an estimation of the lay of the land. He was a surveyor of great experience whose reputation is the stuff of legends in the Hindu Kush mountains - Ambassador Zamir Kabulov, Russia's point person for Afghanistan. By the choice of Kabulov, Moscow also gently stated its broad intentions as regards its architectural design, namely, that it is a mansion with Afghan characteristics.

Following up on Kabulov's visit, Russian experts began arriving in Pakistan. The proposals they brought are of momentous significance to the long-term security and stability of the region. Moscow has zeroed in on energy cooperation as the fulcrum of its nascent cooperation with Islamabad.

A six-year old idea reappears ...
This is a shrewd decision by Moscow since energy security is a key issue in Pakistan's political economy today, no less important than terrorism. Much of Pakistan gets only a few hours' electricity in a day and the people's rancor is visible. Moscow has assessed that energy security is integral to Pakistan's capacity to maintain "strategic autonomy" as a South Asian power of standing and, therefore, by assisting that country in this sphere, Russian geopolitical interests in a vast swathe of the Greater Middle East stretching from the Persian Gulf to China's Autonomous Region of Xinjiang would also be served.

Besides, in immediate terms, mutual understanding with Pakistan is becoming an imperative need for Russia in the post-2014 scenario in Afghanistan, where the Western powers would have withdrawn the bulk of their troops but are nonetheless establishing an open-ended, sizeable military presence of tens of thousands of combat troops.

Russia and Pakistan are joined in their opposition to the long-term occupation of Afghanistan by the West; Russia hopes to influence Pakistani policies with regard to Afghanistan's future and, in turn, cooperation with Pakistan enhances the overall Russian resilience to play an effective role in the stabilization of Afghanistan and in providing security to Central Asia; and, equally, a strong relationship with Pakistan - in the field of energy security, in particular - can provide yet another underpinning for Russia's strategic ties with other key regional powers, especially China, India, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Last but not the least, Pakistan is a valuable interlocutor for Russia with regard to the activities and movements of the militants operating in North Caucasus.

Having said that, Russia weighs its options carefully and is averse to embarking on Soviet-era adventures that might be a drain on its resources. The priority of the Russian leadership lies in regenerating and innovating the economy and building the national strength, and in the case of Pakistan, Moscow estimates there could be an interesting partnership of much economic value to Russia and of mutual benefit.

All in all, Moscow's strategy is to develop new sinews of cooperation with Pakistan that are sustainable, durable, and which dovetail with Russia's vibrant strategic partnerships with China, India and Iran.

Put differently, the Russian approach becomes a necessary regional-policy "adjustment" or even a pre-requisite to the impending admission of Pakistan and India into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as full members. Putin is an action-oriented statesman and the unhappy part is that six long years have passed since he first proposed at the SCO summit in Shanghai in June 2006 the setting up of an energy club within the regional grouping comprising the energy producing countries of Russia, Iran and the Central Asian countries and the three big energy consuming countries of China, India and Pakistan.

It was at the very same Shanghai summit of the SCO that Putin came out openly for the first time to say that Russia's energy leviathan Gazprom was willing to take part in the construction of the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline. Putin said in his address, "Gazprom is ready to take part and provide technological and, if necessary, financial assistance, and we are willing to provide an unlimited amount of it, especially for a project that is certain to take off."

Putin's idea is that the oil and gas exporters within the SCO have been competing for promising markets (such as China or India), and to coordinate the moves SCO needs an energy club, which will act as a coordination center uniting both energy producers and the three key consumers.

One major Central Asian player who has stayed out of the SCO so far has been Turkmenistan, and it is a bit awkward to speak of an energy club in the region that doesn't include such a large-scale gas producer. Russia also has some gas disputes with Turkmenistan - with which, however China has a warm relationship built around energy cooperation.

A little-noticed development of great significance was that Chinese President Hu Jintao invited the Turkmen president to visit Beijing at the time of the SCO summit last month - and the latter accepted. Suffice to say, China is keen to harmonize its regional policies with Russia and would even lend a hand to Moscow's efforts to coordinate the impulses of energy security amongst and within the SCO member countries and observer countries.

A stunning thing is that the proposals brought by the Russian experts in the past week to Islamabad essentially pick up the threads of Putin's 2006 proposal. According to the details available so far, Moscow has made the following proposals to Islamabad:
  • Russia can offer financial and technical assistance for Pakistan's multi-billion dollar gas and power import projects that are in the pipeline.
  • Specifically, Russia is interested in participating in the two big gas pipeline projects on the anvil, namely, the TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) and the IP [Iran-Pakistan].
  • Russia prefers that the cooperation is negotiated at the governmental level through direct negotiations rather than through bidding.
  • Russia is also keen on participation in the Central Asia and South Asia (CASA) project, which was originally floated in 2006, to bring to Pakistan via transmission lines across eastern Afghanistan 1,000-1,300 megawatts of surplus energy during the summer months from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. (The project has the backing of the World Bank and the Islamic Development Bank.)
  • Russia will be willing to cooperate in the exploration of oil, gas and minerals in Pakistan.

    Unsurprisingly, Islamabad has eagerly responded to the Russian proposals. The following understanding seems to have been reached at the talks, which concluded in Islamabad on Wednesday:
  • Pakistan welcomes the Russian proposals;
  • Specifically, Pakistan is agreeable to negotiate the contracts with the state-owned Russian energy companies on a government-to-government basis and will be willing to amend its public procurement rules accordingly;
  • Steps will be taken to conclude a memorandum of understanding to move ahead with the identified projects during Putin's visit;
  • As regards the IP, Pakistan has already floated the tenders for awarding contracts for the pipeline procurement and construction work for the US$1.5 billion project. Russia's Gazprom may also participate. Pakistan proposes to give weight to bids that have a financial package attached. (China and Iran have also shown interest in the project.)
  • Meanwhile, Pakistan will hand over to Russia by mid-July a draft agreement for financial and technical assistance from the latter for the IP project.
  • Russia has agreed to finance the rehabilitation of the Guddu and Muzaffargarh power plants.

    ... which infuriates the overlord
    These developments constitute a daunting challenge to the US' regional strategies in Asia and the Middle East. The ramifications are quite far-reaching. First and foremost, Pakistan's "defection" from the Western camp all but amounts to a crippling blow to the US' New Silk Road Initiative aimed at rolling back the Russian and Chinese influence in Central Asia. Along with that, the US' dreams of getting access to the vast mineral resources of Central Asia and Afghanistan would also suffer setback.
  • On a practical plane, Pakistan's geography has been the lynchpin of the US regional strategies in Afghanistan and Central Asia, and without Pakistan's cooperation no viable (non-Russian, non-Iranian) communication link with those regions is sustainable, which in turn, jeopardizes the plans for the establishment of a permanent US and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) military presence in the region in the "Eurasian heartland".

    Indeed, energy security is the Achilles heel of Pakistan's political economy, and it debilitates Pakistan's capacity to develop a strategic autonomy that safeguards its vital interests and core concerns and, conversely, the current level of acute energy deficiency makes Pakistan very vulnerable to US pressures. Therefore, the helping hand from Russia, even if it is self-seeking, would have serious geopolitical implications for the US regional strategies insofar as it results in augmenting Pakistan's independence and resilience and creating space for it to navigate its way through a particularly difficult and dangerous corridor of time when it is beset with existential problems.

    Again, a coming together of the energy producing and energy consuming countries of Asia is the ultimate nightmare scenario for the US, which fears exclusion from the ensuing matrix of regional cooperation involving countries that happen to be spearheading the fastest-growing region in the world economy. The entire US strategy in the post-Soviet era had aimed at forestalling such a catastrophic eventuality that might put paid to the US efforts to get embedded in the "Eurasian heartland", which includes or overlooks some of the major regional powers in the coming decades - Russia, China, Kazakhstan, India, Pakistan and Iran. (Turkey's admission as a "dialogue partner" of the SCO - at China's behest - at the Beijing summit last month further unnerves the US.)

    To be sure, a host of other issues also arise. The Russian moves in Pakistan effectively outflank the US' policies to isolate Iran. If hostilities erupt between the US and Iran, Washington faces almost near-total isolation in the region between the Persian Gulf and Malacca Strait. On the other hand, the IP project (which seems a priority for Russia and China alike) would have a devastating impact on the US' Iran policy, as it would manifoldly enhance Iran's strategic prowess. The US will factor in that it is a matter of time before China gets connected to the IP gas pipeline. These communication links effectively help China also to reduce its dependence on the Malacca Strait.

    Worst of all, Washington is unsure of India's approach to the emergent geopolitical shift that Russia is triggering. India and Russia have traditionally enjoyed mutual trust and confidence. India and Iran also enjoy fundamentally strong ties, which have even withstood the US pressure. India is independently working on the normalization of its ties with China, and the two countries have made appreciable headway in this direction. (Curiously, the Indian and Chinese state-sector energy companies recently concluded a memorandum of understanding agreeing not to outbid each other in third countries and to cooperate across-the-board including in the two countries' domestic sector.)

    Most important, energy security is becoming a gnawing worry for the Indian leadership as the economy expands rapidly and the need for assured access to reasonably priced energy sources is becoming an all-consuming passion in the country's external policies. (India's External Affairs Minister S M Krishna is heading for Tajikistan, which is the energy source of the CASA project, on Tuesday.)

    The US' diplomatic and politico-military options to counter the Russian moves in Pakistan would lie principally in the direction of influencing the policies of Pakistan and India. The US is pursuing a mixed approach toward Pakistan, alternating soft signals with a flexing of muscle that is vaguely assuming threatening overtones already. At one point recently, it all but seemed that the US would render an apology of sorts for the massacre of Pakistani troops in a US military strike last November on the Afghan-Pakistan border following which the reopening of the Pakistani transit routes for the NATO convoys could be expected within the month of June.

    However, following the Russian-Pakistani confabulations, the US line has hardened. Another attack has taken place on Monday on Pakistani troops (18 of whom were brutally beheaded) by militant groups of obscure background operating from "safe havens" inside Afghanistan. It doesn't need much ingenuity to work out that the US forces in Afghanistan prefer to look away from what these militants are doing right beneath their nose. (Curiously, these militant "safe havens" also happen to be in the region through which the CASA transmission lines from Tajikistan will have to pass.)

    At any rate, on Wednesday, the US' commander in Afghanistan, John Allen, came down to the Pakistani army headquarters in Rawalpindi to propose to the Pakistani army chief Parvez Kayani that the two sides could undertake "joint operations" against the militants operating along the Afghan-Pakistan border.

    This is indeed going to be a cat-and-mouse game. The signs are ominous. The relentless drone attacks through the recent months have destabilized Pakistan's tribal areas adjacent to the border with Afghanistan. The drones are causing a lot of civilian casualties, so much so that the United Nations officials begin to wonder if these wanton killings would constitute "war crimes".

    The drone attacks infuriate the people who live in the tribal areas and in turn are fueling anti-government sentiments, while Islamabad looks helpless in stopping the US from violating the country's territorial integrity. Quite obviously, Pakistan is hunkering down, and the US won't allow that to continue. The indications are that the US will step up pressure on Pakistan and escalate the tensions in a calibrated way.

    A paradigm shift
    The heart of the matter is that Pakistan's "strategic defiance" has taken the US by surprise. The US always counted on the perceived comprador mentality of the Pakistani elites and has been somewhat thrown off balance in discovering that those very same elites (the military leadership, in particular) are no longer what they were supposed to be.

    Of course, this is a flawed perspective and at the root of it lies Washington's unwillingness to countenance an honest appraisal as to why this paradigm shift has occurred at all. The US doesn't have to look far to realize the complexities. The latest survey by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, released on Wednesday, shows that 74% of Pakistanis "hate" the US and hold President Barack Obama in exceptionally low esteem. Interestingly, the most popular Pakistani politician today is Imran Khan (70%), whose main plank is that Pakistan should pull out of the war in Afghanistan and demand that the US troops should pack up their gear and leave the region for good with their war machinery.

    The US faces a more complicated challenge with regard to India. Washington has audaciously complimented New Delhi recently by naming India as the "lynchpin" in its Asia-Pacific strategies. But to the discomfiture of the US, India's response has so far been one of deafening silence, while demonstratively distancing itself from any perceived "ganging-up" against China. On the other hand, a crucial mass is steadily accruing in the Sino-Indian normalization. Equally, India has been carefully sequestering its dialogue process with Pakistan from the chill and vagaries of the US-Pakistan standoff. Even with regard to Iran, India has drawn a bottom line and made it clear that it won't be pushed around - and the current signs are that Washington has finally got the point.

    Having said that, the US will endeavor to butt into the India-Pakistan dialogue and try to turn its focus away from a broad-based approach in a constructive spirit to the highly emotive issues of Pakistan's support of terrorism and the fidayeen attacks on Mumbai in November 2008, which deeply scarred the Indian psyche and still arouse Indian suspicions regarding Pakistani intentions.

    With regard to energy security, the US has encouraged Saudi Arabia to offer a big hand to India, with the hope of encouraging it to reduce its dependence on Iranian oil and in overall terms to wean India away from the IP gas pipeline project. Ideally, Washington would seek a cozy three-way embrace between the US, India and Saudi Arabia, which would keep the Indians away from the alluring thoughts of an SCO energy club.

    But the US is unsure, as the Indians also have their preferences and a passion for keeping their thoughts to themselves while making independent choices about how to go about realizing their national objectives in a complicated regional scenario....

    Wednesday, June 27, 2012

    Russian nuclear bombers test U.S. air defenses in arctic war games during "chilly" but Zioconned Obama-Putin summit....

    The Bear at the Door; Russian nuclear bombers test U.S. air defenses in arctic war games during "chilly" but Zioconned Obama-Putin summit....

    BY: -

    Russian strategic nuclear bombers threatened U.S. airspace near Alaska earlier this month and F-15 jets responded by intercepting the aircraft taking part in large-scale arctic war games, according to defense officials.

    The Russian war games began the same day President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin held a frosty summit meeting in Mexico June 18.

    Zioconned U.S. officials said the arctic exercises over the Russian Far East and Pacific appeared to be a further sign of Russia’s hardening posture toward the Zioconned United States.

    The Obama administration made no protest of the bomber intrusions, according to the officials, in line with its conciliatory “reset” policy of seeking warmer ties with Moscow.

    About 30 strategic nuclear bombers and support aircraft took part in the war games that continued through June 25. The aircraft included Tu-95MS Bear H and Tu-160 Blackjack nuclear-capable bombers, along with Il-76 refueling tankers, A-50 airborne warning and control aircraft, and Su-27 and MiG-31 jet fighters. Some 200 troops also took part in the Russian Strategic Aviation forces exercise.

    A spokesman for the joint U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense command in Colorado Springs, which monitors air defense intrusions, had no immediate comment. A Pentagon spokesman declined to comment.

    U.S. and Zioconned Canadian F-15 and F-16 jets were involved in the intercepts that took place near the Air Identification Zone surrounding Alaskan airspace over the northern Pacific.

    The exercises are part of increasingly aggressive Russian military activities in the arctic region in both the eastern and western hemispheres, which have created security worries among governments in northern Europe and Canada.

    One official said the failure to publicize the threatening bomber maneuvers might have been related to Obama’s overheard promise in March to Russian President Dmitri Medvedev of “more flexibility.”

    According to the defense officials, the arctic bomber exercises are part of Russian efforts to assert control over vast areas of the arctic circle that are said to contain large mineral and oil deposits.

    Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, a former Alaska North American Aerospace Defense commander, said the Russian exercises should be a concern.

    “The Russians continue to exercise our air defense identification zone, which shows Mr. Putin loves to let President Obama know that they still have global capability,” McInerney said in an interview. “So much for reset.”

    McInerney also said the Obama administration kept the encounter between the bombers and U.S. fighters secret because “they obviously don’t want the world to know that the exercise was done deliberately to coincide with the Obama-Putin summit.”

    Zioconned Obama and ZIO-Putin met in Los Cabos, Mexico June 18 in what aides described later as a “businesslike” encounter. The two leaders, however, were shown in video and photos as unsmiling and displaying a cool demeanor toward each other.

    Russia’s government and military have threatened preemptive military attacks on future U.S. missile defense sites in Europe as part of a Russian propaganda campaign against those defenses. Moscow views U.S. and NATO missile defenses as threatening its strategic missiles.

    Defense officials said Russian bomber exercises highlight Moscow’s targeting of the U.S. missile defense base at Fort Greely, Alaska, one of two major ground-based interceptor bases that are part of a limited integrated missile defense system against North Korean and possibly future Chinese or Russian missiles.

    Additionally, the bomber exercises raised concerns that Russia was simulating cruise missile strikes aimed at disrupting U.S. oil pipelines in Alaska. Currently, the state’s Trans-Alaska pipeline delivers more than 11 percent of U.S. oil.

    The Russian bombers involved in the exercises are equipped with long-range precision-guided cruise missiles, including nuclear and conventional missiles.

    A similar bomber exercise in 2007 involved Bear H and Blackjack bombers that conducted simulated cruise missile attacks on the United States. Those bombers operated from strategic bomber bases at Anadyr, Vorkuta, and Tiksi.

    Military reference books state that Bear H bombers are deployed with six Kh-55 or Kh-55SM cruise missiles that can hit targets up to 1,800 miles away with either a high-explosive warhead or a 200-kiloton nuclear warhead.

    Russian Air Force Lt. Col. Vladimir Deryabin, a Defense Ministry spokesman, told Russian state-controlled news agencies that the main purpose of the war games was to provide practice for strategic, fighter, and special aviation aircrews. The first phase involved the dispersal of aviation groups to air bases in the northern and eastern region. A second phase deployed aircraft that flew in groups with fighter cover, he said.

    Deryabin said that the mission of the exercise was to “practice destruction of enemy air defenses and strategic facilities,” according to a June 25 dispatch by the Russian news agency Interfax.

    State Department documents made public by Wikileaks have revealed that Russian offensive military exercises in the arctic during the past several years have been aimed at Moscow’s efforts to “emerge as the dominant arctic power by default.”

    Such exercises have alarmed Norway’s government since many of the exercises took place near Norway’s coast.

    International discussions on Russian military exercises in the arctic have been highlighted by Moscow’s failure to provide pre-flight notification of bomber exercise flights.

    It could not be learned if the Russians notified the United States of the recent bomber exercises near Alaska.

    Canada has complained that earlier Russian bomber flights were conducted without Russia notifying the Canadian government.

    A classified 2009 cable from the U.S. Embassy Moscow said Russia in May 2009 outlined its policy toward the arctic for 2020 and beyond, and said Moscow adopted a “cold peace” policy against Europe and the United States. It stated that the region will be used for strategic resources and that Moscow is seeking to claim exclusive control over an emerging northern sea route passage.

    “The Arctic region, both within Russia’s legally clarified borders and in areas beyond, likely holds vast untapped resources of oil and gas,” the cable states. “While many Russian analysts are skeptical that any of these resources will be economically exploitable in the near future, the Russian leadership wants to secure sovereignty over these ‘strategic’ resources.”

    As part of the arctic military expansion, Russia announced May 30 it was re-opening arctic air bases that had been closed after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

    Russian officials have said the strategic air bases will be used for arctic operations and include airfields in the far north at Naryan-Mar, on Novaya Zemlya, and Franz Josef Land.

    Naryan-Mar is a mainland strategic air base and Novaya Zemlya and Franz Josef Land are islands.

    Additionally, Russia has announced it is setting up an 8,000-troop Arctic Brigade that will be deployed on the Kola Peninsula, near Finland and Norway.

    In 2010, Adm. James A. Winnefeld, then-commander of the Colorado-based U.S. North Command, said in an interview that Russia has continued to fly its strategic nuclear bombers near U.S. airspace as part of Moscow’s efforts to maintain what he termed the illusion of power.

    “In some cases, this is about the illusion of power, where power is not quite there,” Winnefeld said from the Colorado Springs-based command known as Northcom. “They are trying to show the world that they are a powerful nation, and we’re not giving them the satisfaction.”

    Friday, June 15, 2012

    Will the bear always be in the dragon's shadow....?

    Will the bear always be in the dragon's shadow....?

    "" The Russians are bound to feel uneasy about China. With China's vastly greater population it can't be an alliance of equals....? ""

    In the 1990 - yes. But nowadays? Tomorrow?

    Not so sure about that. First, militarily Russia is far more powerful and it also has the huge advantage of strategic depth: key Russian infrastructures are far away from China whereas key Chinese infrastructures are all very much within Russian reach.

    Then China does not have many good neighbors. At the very least it needs to worry about the USA, Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam, and India, plus the DPRK and Pakistan as possible sources of instability. And remember, the Vietnamese beat the crap out of the Chinese in 1979. Big army does not mean good army.

    China also have much more severe regional issues.

    In contrast, the only likely foreign enemy to Russia is Georgia, assuming they did not learn their lesson in 08.08.08, and separatism if finished in all of Russia.

    As for China's size, it is as much a handicap as it is an advantage. The ratio of natural resources per capita is so much higher in Russia that it makes it far more flexible than the huge China.

    Right now, the major Chinese "threat" to Russia are illegal immigrants, and that is not much of a threat, I would say.

    All in all, I would say that Russia packs far more power, both potential and actual, than China. Finally, none of that matters very much because both sides have nothing to gain and all to loose from any kind of problems. They are in fact wonderfully complimentary to each other and all the signs are that they are in the process of building a very long term strategic partnership....

    I think that this idea of China as a threat to Siberia is a canard. Yes, the Chinese have a huge population and yes, they have immense energy needs. But that does not at all mean that the Chinese have to somehow seize Siberia! China is not the USA where the only and default option is military intervention. The Chinese need energy and by far the cheapest and safest option for them is to simply have the Russians extract it for them and deliver it to their doorstep, which the Russians will be delighted to do for them. I bet you that even if the Russians *gave* Siberia to China for free, the Chinese would ask them to please stay and continue working on extracting Siberia's vast resources.

    The Chinese have two options really: to have the Russian bear obliterate their entire society into a stack of smoldering ruins or to have the Russians as their personal pizza delivery boy bringing them their "petrochemical pizza" right at their doorstep. Which do you think that they will choose?

    Also, while Russia is growing economically, it becomes a fantastic market for China, in particular in the context of a collapsing USA and Europe. So not only will the Chinese get their energy from Russia, they will also sell their 'Wall-mart goods' to the Russian market which will accept them with gratitude.

    Lastly, Russia is also interested in a partnership with China and therefore, should China ever get into a crisis with the USA, Taiwan, India or any other party, Russia will "cover the back" of China.

    I think that we are far too influenced by Western history. This is Asia, and both Russia and China have a long history of being very, very, skilled at Asian politics. The very last thing either party will ever do is act like some dumb cowboy and try to invade each other, if only because of the fact that geography makes both of this countries totally un-invadible.

    One more thing: look at Kazakhstan - an amazing and often overlooked country with some really amazing people. The Kazakhs are very smartly playing it all very low key while in reality building excellent ties with China and, even more so, Russia. They also want stability above all else, and then good commerce and peace. As far as I am concerned, I have great hopes that Russia, China and Kazakhstan will continue to build a huge territory of stability and trade which will gradually entice more and more smaller nations to join it.
    I think that Russia's future is very much in Asia. Frankly, both Europe and the USA offer little or no hope of collaboration or development for Russia. What is called the "Anglosphere" (love that expression!) is sclerotic, deeply immersed into a devastating economic and social crisis, and is run by a plutocracy which viscerally hates Russia. What is the point, really?

    Look at it from the Russia point of view: look at the Balts, with their overtly racist and Russophobic ideology; look at the Pollacks, who dream only of being the first in line to brown-nose the USA; look at the rest of Central Europe - Rumsfeld's "new Europe", which is anti-Russian to the core; what about the EU, which is oh so busy trying to save the EU banking order and dealing with immigration (a lost cause if I have ever seen one); look at the USA, run by AIPAC and Zioconned Wall Street. Why would Russia ever find any of them attractive? Oh sure, they will sell them gas and petroleum, and they will smile at official receptions, and speak of a "community of Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals" when in Paris. But in reality, Russia's future is in Asia, with partners like Kazakhstan, China and India. Countries which have far more to offer and which do not share the sclerotic and maniacal desire of the West to return to yet another Cold War.

    I would even say that Russia and China have a long term mission that they, and only they, can truly accomplish - to slowly press the US military out of the Asian-Pacific theater and to replace the US imperial order with a multi-national Asian security system.

    Historically, the 'Anglosphere's ZIOCONNED mindset' was formed on two islands: the British Isles and the USA (protected on all sides from invasion). So the Anglos have almost always fought their wars far away from home. Russia and China are land-powers, who know all too well that the enemy can *drive* to their capital city. They are far more acutely aware of how devastating wars can be and they do not have the typically Anglo sense of arrogant impunity. This is why they will not seek to establish an imperial order with one big policeman in charge, but a multi-polar system in which every country's security depends on the security of every other country....

    Russia and China Mull Syria ... and Saudi Arabia; My God, I can't believe it, I've stumbled upon an honest journalist....

    The Zioconned and utterly corrupt and criminal war-mongering Western countries abdicated any claims to moral or political leadership and content themselves by bleating from the sidelines as the ZIOCONNED Western media pleasures itself with fantasies of righteousness for Decades....

    Russia and China Mull Syria ... and ZIOCONNED Saudi Arabia....
    By Peter Lee;

    My God, I can't believe it, I've stumbled upon an honest journalist!

    Vladimir Putin and Hu Jintao had an interesting question to discuss during their summit in Beijing. Is it good business and good geopolitics to acquiesce to a Sunni Arab triumph in Syria? Or is Syria the place to hold the line against a destabilizing and counterproductive projection of Saudi Arabian power into Iran's near beyond?

    Absent from the discussion is the United States, which has abdicated any claims to moral or political leadership and contents itself by bleating from the sidelines as the Western media pleasures itself with fantasies of righteousness.

    Meanwhile, Syria bleeds … and bleeds … and bleeds.

    The simplest explanation for the massacre of almost 200 villagers at Houla and Qubeir is brutal payback by regime irregulars with a dash of ethnic cleansing. The possibility of a false flag operation - a massacre orchestrated by regime opponents in order to discredit the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and polarize opinion - would appear to be very very likely. Murder will out, as Shakespeare put it, and it would be nice to think that even amid Syria's chaos the most brutal strategist would shrink before the political risks of trying to murder scores of civilians and try to pin it on the other side....

    However, accurate details of the massacres have yet to emerge. Most recently Rainer Hermann, Middle East correspondent of Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, further muddied the waters by accusing the rebels of committing the Houla atrocity. [1]

    If one steps back and adopts the standard of cui bono? - who benefits ? - to the atrocities, it is undeniable that the massacres have been a propaganda godsend to the opposition.

    Post-Houla, broadcasting dire warnings of an impending massacre of civilians seems to be becoming a staple of rebel media management whenever it faces a regime counter-offensive. Most recently, the rebels assaulted the town of al Haffeh. When government troops appeared to seal off the town and prepare to retake it, the Free Syrian Army warned of another impending massacre and announced to the avid international media it was spiriting civilians out of the city to safety. For its part, the government broadcast wiretaps of what it claimed were rebel provocateurs discussing plans to stage a Houla-style outrage at Haffeh and the nearby town of Tal and blame them on the government.

    The cry of (looming) massacre also encourages the deployment of what one might term "the Benghazi gambit" - using claims of imminent civilian peril to short-circuit discussion and investigation at the international level, push for a quick military solution, and then take advantage of the "winners write history" privilege to bury any traces of error, skullduggery, and dishonesty by the good guys.

    The narrative of escalating Syrian government brutality is important to Assad's enemies, as it counters another, more embarrassing narrative: the increased flow of money and material aid to the rebels, aid that is in contravention of the ceasefire, helps elicit more brutal government action to quash the rebellion, and thereby justifies the provision of more clandestine aid to "protect civilians" while rendering the failure of the Annan mission even more likely a virtuous cycle, at least for the opposition committed to Assad's downfall.

    A sure sign of the increased flow of aid to the rebels was the deployment of publicly unsubstantiated accusations by the US State Department that Russia was sending attack helicopters to Syria. Perhaps the State Department has unique insights into the flow of military materiel from Russia to Syria, but the key change in Syria is not in the order of battle of the government forces; it is the increase in military capabilities of the local rebels thanks in significant part to foreign supply of arms.

    Likewise, escalating foreign outrage over the Assad regime's brutal excesses and the emergence of the detested irregulars- the shabiha - as regime shock troops has paralleled the climbing death count of government security forces.

    The fact remains that the only clear path to a negotiated solution of the Syrian crisis requires a military stalemate, not regime overthrow.

    Assad's strategy (and that of Russia and China) appears to be to neutralize the armed opposition militarily, and then goose the political process by releasing the domestic moderates among the hundred thousand or so political prisoners his secret polices services have placed in their grim inventory. Indeed, that's where things were headed after Assad's forces crushed the rebels at Babu Amr in Homs and held parliamentary elections … and before a flood of international condemnation and an increased flow of arms heartened the opposition.

    The fact that the United States is working toward the exact opposite end by encouraging the armed struggle now remorselessly polarizing the country and grinding away at the regime's legitimacy (or more accurately, just letting Syria collapse into chaos) is, I suppose, a subject that the infinitely capacious and flexible American conscience will find a way to deal with.

    To be fair, the United States, the EU, and Turkey have been paragons of timidity when it comes to effecting the overthrow of Assad. The overt military option is off the table and Turkey, which by rights should be seizing the regional leadership role, has apparently acquired a serious case of cold feet now that the inclusive liberal revolution has turned into a sectarian-tinged uprising that threatens to bring unrest and anxiety to Kurdish populations in Turkey as well as Syria.

    Attempts to tease out the significance of Houla and Qubeir, together with the impression that the Assad regime is on its last legs, has turned attention to a possible endgame: a bloody spasm of ethnic cleansing in the Alawite homeland of the coastal mountains, followed by some sort of hunkering down by pro-regime forces as they negotiate for their future with a triumphant new regime in Damascus.

    This speculation fueled comparisons with Bosnia - another gateway justification for increased foreign intervention.

    There are indeed some interesting historical precedents for Alawite separatism.

    Alawite communities, which now constitute about 12% of Syria's population, were marginalized during the Ottoman empire thanks to widespread condemnation of their heterodox and esoteric religious practice by Islamic authorities. Indeed, traditional Alawi belief apparently includes some unique elements, particularly the deification of Ali, the son-in-law of Muhammad, that would make it extremely difficult for it to pass muster with mainstream Muslim practitioners.

    The Ottomans categorized Alawites as apostates, referring to them by the dismissive term of Nusayris (a term that has re-emerged in heated discussions of the Syrian situation on Muslim-related message boards and even in media accounts).

    Until 1870, clerical fatwas declared it was permissible to slay Alawites and take their possessions; in the latter decades of the Ottoman empire Alawite thieves were still occasionally crucified or impaled for their transgressions - a punishment that was not applied to Muslims and had been eliminated for Christians almost 100 years before.

    At the fall of the empire, only one "city" - a Christian town with a population of 2,600 - allowed Alawites to reside within its walls. The rest lived in small hamlets under conditions of medieval poverty and subjugation to the Sunni political, economic, and administrative elite residing in the important coastal towns of Latakia and Tartus.

    French assumption of the Syria mandate after World War I, though resented by most Syrians, was a godsend to the Alawites. The French, applying the proven divide-and-rule template, supported the Alawites' aspirations to equality and dignity, at least for a time, as well as enrolling them disproportionately in the military force it created to slug it out with the Syrian nationalist uprising. The French administration also promoted the use of the more dignified term "Alawite" instead of "Nusayri". From 1922 until 1935, when the French government achieved a satisfactory accommodation with the local governing authority in Damascus, the Alawite areas enjoyed autonomy as the "Sanjak of Lattakia", with their own rulers and flag, albeit with a French tricolor in the corner. [2]

    After World War II, when decolonization was clearly in the cards, Alawi leaders fruitlessly agitated for the creation of another Lebanon - another island, in other words, of protected non-Sunni minorities - encompassing the Alawi heartland along the Syrian coastal range or, at the very least, autonomy. However, the French stood aside, and the Damascus regime reasserted control over the Alawi areas after a series of skirmishes that were little more than bandit suppression exercises.

    With their dreams of independence dashed, Alawite religious and political leaders began the difficult process of affirming their Arab identity and loyalty in an environment of intense Arab and Syrian nationalism, after an inglorious interval serving as France's colonial assets, and the even dicier task of redefining their religion so that their faith and its adherents would be accepted by the greater Syrian community, which is overwhelmingly Sunni. Syrian Sunni acceptance was slow and grudging. Only in 1952 did the Syrian state extend even partial recognition of the Islamic character of Alawi religious observance. [3]

    In response to their difficulties, Alawite religious leaders unilaterally identified themselves as part of the "Twelver" strain of Shi'ism, a claim that was only fitfully and incompletely acknowledged by the Twelver hierarchy in Lebanon over 40 years, until ties were formalized in 1973 by the renowned Twelver leader Musa al-Sadr (whose subsequent disappearance in Libya and apparent murder at the hands of Gaddafi still roils Libya-Lebanese relations). [4]

    Alawi re-invention was completed as Alawi soldiers leveraged their leading position in the French and early Syrian armies and came to dominate the officer corps as well. When the time came for a coup in 1971, the Alawites - in the form of Hafez al-Assad - were there to take control of Syria's central government, beginning the unlikely 40-year reign of a sect that was almost totally marginalized 25 years before.

    If, as Thomas Wolfe said, you can't go home again, this probably rings truer for the Alawis than any other group in Syria. The legitimacy and authority of the Alawi elite is embedded in the matrix of Syrian nationalism and centralism, and not the abandoned flirtations with local independence or autonomy. Add to that the fact that the major cities of Latakia and Tartus still have sizable and demonstrably restive Sunni populations, the prospects for retreating to a defendable haven in western Syria appear extremely remote.

    Finally, it is unlikely that Russia, China, or even Iran would defy international sanctions to prop up the Assad regime with economic and military aid if it shrank to an Alawite coastal enclave.

    The Assad regime's political strategy, in other words, is predicated upon clinging to central political power and some legitimacy, not trying to leverage its dubious separatist option.

    If the example of Lebanon resonates with Syria's Alawite leadership, it is probably in the context of the 1989 Taif Agreement, an episode of externally negotiated power sharing led by Saudi Arabia and Syria that brought an end to the most violent phase of the Lebanese civil war - one that demonstrated the bloody futility of efforts by Lebanon's close analogue to the Alawites, the overly-represented and heavily-armed Christian minority, to protect and assert its privileges through the establishment of sectarian enclaves.

    Under the accord, the various foreign sponsors persuaded their respective Sunni, Shi'ite, Christian, and Druze clients to get off each other's throats and instead divvy up powers and offices based on their respective power and inclination to do mischief (as a conflict avoidance measure, Lebanon has refrained from conducting an official national census, which would demonstrate that the dwindling Christian population still enjoyed offices and parliamentary seats vastly disproportionate to its current share of the population).

    The Taif process enjoyed across-the-board support from the Arab world, the United States, and the Soviet Union. Syria, which had traditionally called the shots in Lebanon, accepted a diminution of its clout (though it honored its obligations to withdraw its troops from Lebanon "in the breach", as it were) and leadership of the Sunni interest by Saudi Arabia's anointed choice, Rafik Hariri.

    It is safe to say that, post-Arab Spring and with the explosion of domestic dissent, Bashar al-Assad recognized the futility of trying to suppress the aspirations of Syria's Sunni majority, and hoped for some smooth Taif-esque exercise in power sharing enabled by the good offices of Saudi Arabia and the United States, that would give the political representatives of the Sunnis greater access to offices and power while preserving a healthy amount of Alawite privilege.

    Not to be, clearly. Saudi intransigence on the issue of political transition in Syria is the big and largely unreported story of the Syrian conflict.

    It has its roots in the political fragmentation of the Arab realm in the modern era, and the unending opportunities it offers for mutual meddling by the dozen or so compromised and ethnically fractured states that compose it today.

    Since the fall of the Ottoman empire in 1921, there has been a strong if frustrated impulse toward Sunni Arab nation-building in the "Fertile Crescent", at least the Sunni-majority portions that encompass western Iraq, Syria, and Jordan. The heartland of the Muslim religion is Mecca and Medina; but the spiritual core of Islamic empire lies in the agricultural lands to the north and its heart is, arguably, Damascus, capital of the Umayyad Caliphate - a period regarded as a golden age both for the political and military advance of Islam and for the unity and righteousness of the Islamic umma.

    The dream of pan-Arab nationalism in World War I, cynically incited by the British and sincerely encouraged by T E Lawrence, was to replace detested Ottoman rule with a united Arab nation stretching from Aleppo to Aden under the rule of the family of the Sharif of Mecca, the Hashimites.

    Famously, soon after Prince Feisal joined the triumphant liberation of Damascus in 1918 (commemorated in the closing scenes of the film Lawrence of Arabia), a secret French-British agreement jobbed him out of the Kingdom of Greater Syria - which would have encompassed the Arab remnants of the Ottoman empire all the way from the Turkish border down to the Sinai - and he ended up ruling the newly created Kingdom of Iraq instead as a consolation prize. The British government subsequently installed Feisal's brother Abdullah as King of Transjordan (the area beyond Palestine and west of the Jordan River that the British didn't want to govern themselves); the Hashimite family still rules there today in the person of King Abdullah II of Jordan.

    People with long and grim memories of Western shenanigans leading up to the war to remove Saddam Hussein may recall that the idea was floated of installing a disgruntled uncle of King Abdullah II as Saddam's successor, thereby reintroducing the glories of Hashimite rule to the people of Iraq while removing a troublemaker from the Jordanian scene.

    In any case, after all this imperial slicing and dicing all that was left of "Greater Syria" after the French grabbed Lebanon, the British set up shop in Palestine, and various sandy interior reaches were turned over to the Hashimites, was "Lesser Syria", the Syria we know today.

    Geopolitically, Syria had a Goldilocks problem: it simply wasn't the right size or shape to satisfy its Greater Syria aspirations or find a happy role in pan-Arab nationalism.

    In 1947, Syria haltingly participated in the disastrous pan-Arab campaign against Israel. In the 1950s, it feared subversion from Transjordan, whose king contemplated grabbing a slice of Syria as compensation for his own Palestine-related setbacks. In the early 1960s, Syria drank deeply from the well of pan-Arabism and rushed into a misguided political union with Nasser's Egypt (forming the short-lived United Arab Republic) and came close to a similar tie-up with Iraq.

    Then in 1966 the Ba'ath Party split into Syrian and Iraq factions, and the separate cells came to rule their respective countries. The murderous, outsized ambitions of Saddam Hussein then compelled Hafez al-Assad to ally with that traditional b๊ete noire of Arab nationalism and Sunni religion, Shi'ite Iran. With pan-Arabism in the dustbin, Assad carefully and cannily pursued a Greater Syria agenda by serial meddling in Lebanon.

    Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia assumed leadership of the Sunni states by virtue of its stewardship of holy sites, its gigantic oil revenues, and its inclination to project its power throughout the Middle East by means of richly endowed Islamic initiatives in the ZIOCONNED Wahhabi-Takfiri- Salafi crazies' vein.

    In Syria, Bashar al-Assad attempted to migrate to a concept of Syria as a viable nation-state and good neighbor both to Turkey and his Sunni Arab brethren to the south and an west, an ally to Iran and the Shi'ites of Lebanon, and a useful black intelligence and interrogation asset to the United States, but has learned to his bitter disappointment that the role of regional linchpin is not to be afforded to "Lesser Syria".

    Today, there is no international consensus and a shrinking domestic commitment to sustaining Syria - a diminished, artificially constructed rump with almost no oil and no atomic bomb (with hindsight, Assad's failed clandestine attempt to get Syria into the nuclear business appears wise instead of reckless) - as a successful multi-ethnic state.

    Instead, the role of regional Sunni lawgiver is being fought over the prostrate hulk of Syria by two regional powers: Saudi Arabia, Qatar backed by its outsized petroleum reserves, and Turkey, which is beginning to feel its Ottoman oats thanks to a successful program of political and economic reform, superimposed on a local struggle between liberal reformists and the authoritarian regime.

    ZIOCONNED Turkey dashed out on a limb, expecting to midwife a quick and easy Arab Spring victory and a grateful liberal-minded, pro-Turkish regime on its southern border. However, the Assad regime has not gone quietly and the burgeoning violence has made Turkey think twice about tossing more gasoline on the flames.

    ZIOCONNED Saudi Arabia apparently has no such qualms. Together with its regional ZIOCONNED ally, Qatar, it has been employing the maximalist rhetoric in public while secretly funneling money and arms to opposition forces, thereby driving the ZIOCONNED international response.

    The hostility of these two autocracies toward ZIOCONNED Assad, of course, has nothing to do with the illiberal shortcomings of his ZIOCONNED regime and everything to do with his alliance with Iran.

    Not neighboring on Syria and relatively indifferent to the consequences, ZIOCONNED Saudi Arabia sees the opportunity to consolidate a bulwark of anti-Iranian Sunni states by seeing to it that Assad does not survive to dilute the anti-Iranian fervor of whatever successor regime emerges from the Syrian chaos.

    The question that should be asked is, should the events in Syria be driven by an opaque, insecure ZIOCONNED kingdom that seeks geopolitical influence by exacerbating sectarian and ethnic divisions?

    That is a question the ZIOCONNED United States is in no position to ask, since the aggressive unilateral Saudi push against Iran and Shi'ism is in large part driven by the recent memory of the ZIOCONNED United States allowing the regime of another heavyweight Middle Eastern ally (and unsavory autocrat) go down the tubes in the name of democracy: ZIOCONNED President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt.

    It is a question that China and Russia have answered, to their own satisfaction at least, in the negative.

    Their vision for the Middle East includes Iran somehow emerging from the morass of ZIOCONNED US-led sanctions and assuming its rightful place near the heart of central and south Asia, and a major, secure economic partner and ally for Moscow and Beijing.

    As for ZIOCONNED Syria, Moscow treasures its Mediterranean port-of-call at Tartus, and Beijing has deep qualms about enabling continued ZIOCONNED Western experiments in externally promoted regime change. Certainly, if the ZIOCONNED Saudis bought into a more peaceful, negotiated transition - per the Russian proposal for a conference on Syria that would include both Saudi Arabia and Iran and protect Russian and Chinese influence and interests - it would be welcome. [5]

    But it is also likely that Russia and China would acquiesce to the sacrifice of ZIOCONNED Bashar Assad's regime if ZIOCONNED Saudi Arabia made it clear that a pickup in Syria would serve as a satisfactory exclamation point to the anti-Iranian campaign and everybody could just go back to pumping oil and making money.

    However, ZIOCONNED Saudi Arabia has yet to give such a signal. The trend seems to be going the other way. Recently, the ZIOCONNED Saudi government went out of its way to insult Russia by giving a low level reception to a visiting Russian commercial delegation on account of Russian support for the Assad regime while darkly muttering than the ZIOCONNED Kingdom would have no problem turning elsewhere for "iron and wheat". [6]

    Parsing ZIOCONNED Saudi intransigence, Putin and Hu probably see little incentive to throw Assad under the bus and, effectively, give a free hand for continued mischief to the Middle East's richest but least competent, most ZIOCONNED and backward, and perhaps most extremist hegemon…one that might run out of oil before it runs out of spleen.

    At the end of their summit in Beijing, Putin and Hu issued a statement condemning outside interference in the Syrian crisis and called for all interested parties to put their efforts into support of the Annan ceasefire initiative.

    An op-ed by the Chinese pundit Tian Wenlin in People's Daily laid out China's case against regime change in Syria. It is not, in my opinion, doing any violence to his meaning if one substitutes "Saudi Arabia" for "the ZIOCONNED West" as the target of his statements:
    Obviously, the ZIOCONNED Western nations have considered it more beneficial to overturn the current ZIOCONNED Syrian regime than to retain it. …

    The ZIOCONNED West is ambitious about the Syrian issue at present, but actually they have been blinded by its expanding hegemonic desire to promote regime changes: Libya is followed with Syria. And subsequent to the Syrian collapse, they will target Iran. The unlimited greed and shortsightedness will only widen the gap between its ability and intention, and between its means and objectives. [7]
    In other words, if ZIOCONNED Saudi Arabia, the homeland of 15 of the 19 bogeymen of the most barbaric False Flag attack and the inside Job of 9/11 hijackers, could pause from beating up ZIOCONNED Bahrain long enough to look in a mirror, it might see an overreaching, overfunded ZIOCONNED theocracy that is more the cause than the victim of the instability it reviles.

    With Putin at the reins again, Russia will probably be less interested than ever in yielding to ZIOCONNED Western moral suasion over Syria. China, which is reaping oil, opportunities, and profits on the Shi'ite side of the fence will have a strong inclination to follow the Russian lead.

    As for the people of Syria, the international stalemate will simply prolong their ZIOCONNED suffering....

    Report: Rebels Responsible for Houla Massacre, National Review Online, Jun 9, 2012.
    Alawite State , Flag Spot.
    3.Joshua Landis, Nationalism and the politics of Za'ama: The collapse of Republican Syria, 1945-1949. Unpublished PhD dissertation, Princeton University, 1997. 4.
    Syria's Alawis and Shi'ism, Geocities.
    Russian non-paper: Concept of an international conference on Syria, UN Report, Jun 10, 2012.
    Saudis snub Russian trade delegation, Gulf News, Jun 13, 2012.
    Promoting Syrian regime change lacks strategic foresight, People's Daily, Jun 12, 2012.

    Peter Lee writes on East and South Asian affairs and their intersection with US foreign policy...


    The Syrian Human Rights Network (SHRN) has issued a statement included names of a number of opposition figures abroad who were recruited and financed by the U.S. administration between 2000 and 2009.The network on Saturday said those who were recruited before 2000 until 2006 are: the assassin ASEF SHAWKAT of the infamous White House Murder INC,...., Marah al-Buqai, Mariam Najmeh, Florance Ghezlan, Ghassan Mufleh, Najib Ghadban, Obaida Nahhas, Basma Qdmana, and Jrius al-Hames. ” Those who were recruited after the year 2006 are: Radwan Ziadeh, Mohy Eddeen Lazkani, Subhi Hadidi, Suhair al-Atassi, Ghassan Najjar, Adeeb al-Shishakli, Anas al-Abdeh, Bassam Ja’ara, Jean Abdullah and Obaida Nahhas,” the statement said.

    The network mentioned that the value of the amounts received ranged from $ 20 to 50 thousand annually for a person. The amount was given according to the position and activity of the opposition figure. The statement indicated that Elizabeth the monster assassin's daughter Cheney is the main financer at the U.S. administration, and MOSSAD's Rita Katz is the General Coordinator of funding at the Middle East Department at the U.S. administration. According to the network a new list of agents’ names recruited after 2009-2010 will be issued later.


    روسيا من الداخل: سورية قضية أمن قومي

    موسكو – ليلى نقولا الرحباني-

    إن الزائر إلى العاصمة الروسية موسكو، والعاصمة الثانية سان بيترسبورغ في هذه الأيام، والباحث عن أكثر من سياحة ثقافية وحضارية تاريخية، لا شكّ يشعر أن الصراع في الشرق الأوسط والتحضيرات الروسية لتبوء مركز جديد على الساحة الدولية، تأخذ حيزاً هاماً من الاهتمام الروسي الداخلي، والنقاش إن على صعيد النخب أو على صعيد الاهتمام الإعلامي.

    يستعيد الروس في هذه الفترة بالذات، أحلام العودة إلى مجد دولتهم السابق، متسلحين بتاريخ من المجد الامبراطوري، ومدعومين بثقة كبيرة بقيصر روسيا الجديد فلاديمير بوتين، فيؤكدون أن روسيا اليوم على عهده هي أقوى مما كان عليه الاتحاد السوفياتي السابق خلال فترات ضعفه، إذ أعيد الاعتبار للدولة، وتمّ البطش بالمافيا، وتعزيز وضع الموظفين والمحاربين القدامى وغيرهم من الفئات الشعبية الفقيرة والمتوسطة التي عانت الأمرّين بعد سقوط الاتحاد.

    ويبدو للمطلع على توجهات الرأي العام الروسي من داخل العاصمتين، أن السياسة الخارجية لبلادهم في الشرق الأوسط، تتلاءم كلياً مع تطلعات الشعب الروسي وتوجهاته، في الإصرار على عدم السماح للغرب بإسقاط سورية، وتبرز مؤشرات عدّة تؤكد هذه التوجهات، لعل أبرزها ما يلي:

    - الحنين إلى الجذور الدينية في الشرق الأوسط، أو ما يطلق عليه الروس اسم "الأم الدينية" لروسيا، مشيرين إلى تضمن العلم الروسي لصورة "القديس جاورجيوس"، فروسيا لم تعرف المسيحية إلا بعد التبشير الآتي من الشرق الأوسط، ومن سورية بالتحديد، ولعل الدولة الخارجة من إلحاد وتغييب للمقدس في الإطارين العام والخاص، تعيش ردة حقيقية إلى الجذور، وتمسكاً حقيقياً بالاعتبارات الدينية في سياستها الخارجية والداخلية.

    - يشير البعض إلى أن نجاح بوتين في حكم روسيا، وإعادتها إلى الساحة الدولية، مرده في الداخل إلى "ثلاثية حكم" تمسك بقبضة حديدية على مفاصل الحياة الروسية الاجتماعية والسياسية، وهي الجيش والمخابرات والكنيسة، ومن هنا، يمكن أن نفهم الخط الأحمر الذي رسمه الروس، بالنسبة لتهجير الأقليات من الشرق، ويعيدنا هذا التنافس الروسي الغربي المتخذ طابعاً دينياً بالذاكرة إلى عهود السلطنة العثمانية الأخيرة، ودعم الدول الكبرى للطوائف الذي أعطاها جواز مرور إلى الساحة الشرق أوسطية، مع فارق جوهري أن الإلغاء الكامل لوجود بعض الطوائف والأقليات لم يكن على أجندة بعض الدول الكبرى كما يحصل اليوم، حيث يبدو وبشكل أكيد أن الغرب يسير بخطة منهجية لتهجير المسيحيين من الشرق، وهو ما يؤكد أن الروس لن يسمحوا به.

    واللافت أنه بالرغم من سيطرة اللوبي اليهودي في روسيا على الجزء الأكبر من الإعلام الروسي، لكن التوجّه الإعلامي المحلي، يميل بشكل عام لمصلحة بوتين وخياراته الاستراتيجية الجديدة، ونرى البرامج الحوارية، التي تعتمد آليات التفاعل مع الجمهور، تشهد تفاوتاً هائلاً في الميزان التصويتي لصالح بوتين وسياسته الشرق أوسطية، ويتحدث الروس عن "تشويه إعلامي" وبروباغندا غربية تتعرض له روسيا وسورية معاً، كما يبدو لافتاً إحجام الإعلام عن الانتقاد الشديد للسياسة الروسية في الشرق الأوسط وفي الموضوع السوري بالتحديد، باعتبار أن القضية في سورية باتت "قضية أمن قومي روسي" بالدرجة الأولى.

    - يؤكد الروس ثبات التحالف الاستراتيجي والعسكري مع سورية، وكان الروس قد أرسلوا رسائل شديدة اللهجة إلى الناتو وتركيا، بأن فكرة السيطرة الجوية الأطلسية على أجواء المتوسط لن تمر، كما استحالة فرض منطقة حظر جوي فوق سورية على غرار ما طبقه الغرب فوق العراق في العام 1991.

    وفي هذا الإطار، تتعدد الرسائل الروسية، فمنها المعلن ومنها المخفي في كواليس سياسات الدول الكبرى ومؤتمراتها وقممها ومباحثاتها، فمن الصاروخ العابر للقارات، إلى استخدام السوريين صاروخاً روسياً لإسقاط الطائرة التركية المعتدية على سيادة الأجواء السورية، والذي أتى بضوء أخضر روسي أكيد، متبوعاً برفض روسي واضح للتراجع عن تزويد سورية بالسلاح، بالإضافة إلى الخبراء الروس الموجودين على الأراضي الروسية.. كلها تؤكد ما كان بوتين قد أعلنه مراراً "أن عهد تغيير الأنظمة في الشرق الأوسط قد انتهى"، وأن "الروس مستعدون لمواجهة ما يقوم به الناتو من تهديد للأمن القومي الروسي سواء في الشرق الأوسط أم في أوروبا.

    ولعل الرسالة الروسية الأقوى في هذا المضمار، هو رفض بوتين المطلق لبناء الدرع الصاروخي في أوروبا، معتبراً أن روسيا مستعدة لتطوير نظام مضاد مهما بلغت كلفته، ما يوحي بتهديد روسي بالاستعداد لسباق تسلح جديد إن اقتضت مصالح روسيا وأمنها القومي ذلك، ولن يثنيها عن ذلك كلفة مادية يتكل الغرب على عدم قدرة روسيا على الاضطلاع بها.

    - من الناحية الاقتصادية، يشير الروس إلى معركة الأنابيب على الساحل السوري، التي تأتي من ضمن حرب اقتصادية يمارسها الغرب على روسيا، والتي يبدو من أحد معالمها، تخفيض سعر النفط بالإضافة إلى الضغط المالي والاقتصادي على الروبل، وضخ الأموال للمتظاهرين بالعملات الصعبة.. وهنا، يشير الروس إلى أنهم والإيرانيين لن يسمحوا لقطر بالسير بمشروعها أو حلمها الإمبراطوري بالسيطرة على النفوذ النفطي في الشرق الأوسط، وفيه سيناريوهات قطرية تتحدث عن تقسيم السعودية وسيطرة قطر على الساحل السوري وعلى شبكات توزيع النفط في الشرق الأوسط والخليج.

    في المحصلة، يعطي الحديث مع النخب الروسية انطباعاً أكيداً، أن السياسة الروسية في الشرق الأوسط غير قابلة للتراجع – أقلّه في المدى المنظور والمتوسط - ويتحدث الروس عن إرث من الغدر العربي بهم، فهم لن ينسوا ما فعله عرب الخليج بهم في القوقاز، ولن يغضوا النظر عن التقارير التي تفيد عن تمويل وتدريب عربي خليجي للانتحاريين الذين فجرّوا أنفسهم في روسيا، مؤكدين أن المعركة الحاصلة على أرض سورية هي قضية أمن قومي روسي، وأن الاعتبارت الاستراتيجية تطغى على كل ما عداها من مصالح مشروعة أو غير مشروعة على الساحة الدولية.

    Zioconned America as a rogue state, Drone me down on the ZIO's killing floor....

    Zioconned America as a rogue state, Drone me down on the ZIO's killing floor....

    By Pepe Escobar

    Lord knows, I should'a been gone
    Lord knows, I should'a been gone
    And I wouldn't've been here,
    down on the killin' floor

    - Howlin' Wolf, Killing Floor

    As convenient as it is for someone in a cubicle in the Nevada desert to press a button and incinerate a Pashtun wedding party in North Waziristan, now, with only a click, anyone can download a
    359 KB file available on Amazon for only $8.99 - including free wireless delivery - and learn everything there is to learn about All Things Drone.

    It's fitting that Terminator Planet: The First History of Drone Warfare, 2001-2050 has been put together by Tom Engelhardt - editor, MC of the TomDispatch website and "a national treasure", in the correct appraisal of University of Michigan professor Juan Cole - and TomDispatch's associate editor Nick Turse, author of the seminal 2008 study
    The Complex: How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives.

    This is essentially Tom and Nick's revised and updated body of work detailing the uber-dystopian Dronescape over the past few years - spanning everything from secret Drone Empire bases to offshore droning; a Philip Dick-style exercise on a more than plausible drone-on-drone war off East Africa in 2050; and a postscript inimitably titled, "America as a Shining Drone Upon a Hill". It does beat fiction because it's all fact-based.

    An MQ-1 Predator or an MQ-9 Reaper to go?
    This digital file becomes even more crucial now that US and world public opinion knows US President Barack Obama is the certified Droner-in-Chief; the final judge, jury and digital Grand Inquisitor on which suspicious Muslim (for the moment, at least, they are all Muslims) will get his paradise virgins via targeted assassination.

    Obama owns his newspeak-drenched "kill list". He decides on a "personality strike" (a single suspect) or a "signature strike" (a group). "Nominations" are scrutinized by Obama and his associate producer, counter-terrorism czar John Brennan. The logic is straight from Kafka; anyone lurking around an alleged "terrorist" is a terrorist. The only way to know for sure is after he's dead.

    And the winner of the Humanitarian Oscar for Best Targeted Assassination with No Collateral Damage goes to… the Barack Obama White House death squad.

    Targeted - and dissolved - throughout this grim process are also a pile of outdated concepts such as national sovereignty, set-in-stone principles of US and international law, and any category which until the collapse of the Soviet Union used to define what is war and what is peace. Anyway, those categories started to be dissolved for good already during the Bush administration - which "legalized" widespread CIA and Special Ops torture sessions and death squads.

    Any self-respecting jurist would have to draw the inevitable conclusion; the United States of America is now outside international law - as rogue a state as they come, with The Drone Empire enshrined as the ultimate expression of shadow war.

    Incinerate the faithful
    Reading Terminator Planet inevitably evokes the incestuous interaction between Hollywood and the Pentagon. Even discounting the trademark wacky paranoia of Hollywood screenwriters and producers, a simple re-run of both the Robocop and Terminator series reveals this may end up badly.

    And we're not even talking about a Revolt of the Drones - yet. In 2010 there was already a hint of juicy possibilities to come, when a RQ-170 Sentinel crash-landed in Western Iran via sophisticated jamming, and was duly reverse-engineered, to the delight of Iranians, Russians and the Chinese. The Pentagon hysterically denied it had been outmaneuvered.

    The notion that a Drone Empire may win definitive control over what the Pentagon used to call the "arc of instability" between the Middle East and Central Asia - at the behest of Big Oil - is eminently laughable.

    As laughable as the notion that a Drone Empire active in AfPak, Yemen, Somalia and soon in all points across the "arc of instability" will save the homeland from jihad, Sharia law, a new Caliphate set up by a bunch of fanatics, and all of the above.

    Especially now that the Pentagon itself ditched the rhetoric - and is focused on a "pivoting" to face the potential peer competitor that really counts, China.

    And US Army brigades (and Special Ops commandos) from 2013 onwards will be rotated all around the world - with an emphasis in Africa - according to a Pentagonese "regionally aligned force concept."

    And Southcom has announced that Predator, Reaper and Global Hawk drones will be deployed in Central and South America for "anti-drug operations, counter-insurgency and naval vigilance".

    As much as The Drone Empire is global, drones can only be effective if ground intelligence is effective. A simple example is enough. Ultimately, in AfPak, it's not Obama that decides on his "kill list". It's the Pakistani ISI - which relies the info that suits its contingencies to the CIA. And this while the Pentagon and the CIA keep working under the galactic illusion of absolute supremacy of American technology - when they cannot even neutralize an inflation of cheap, ultra low-tech IEDs.

    Uncle Sam wants your ass
    Americans must also worry about the Inland Drone Empire - as the pitifully unpopular US Congress and President Obama have now fully authorized their "integration" into American airspace by 2015; by 2020, they will number at least 30,000. For the moment, the Pentagon has "only" 7,000 drones (ten years ago there were less than 50).

    Predictably, massive corporate lobbying by drone manufacturers such as General Atomics was key for the approval of the new legislation. There's even a drone caucus, with 55 Congressmen (and expanding), and a global lobby with 507 corporate members in 55 countries, the Association for Unmanned Vehicles International, which essentially sets the rules.

    The Orwellian - and Philip Dick - overtones are inescapable; this is all about 24/7 drone surveillance of large swathes of the US population via radar, infrared cameras, thermal imaging, wireless "sniffers" and, crucially, crowd-control weapons. You better monitor the skies very closely before you even start thinking about protesting. And wait for the imminent arrival of nuclear-powered drones, which can go on non-stop for months, and not only days.

    Tom and Nick's digital file is absolutely essential reading for contextualizing the lineaments of an already de facto surveillance state, where everyone is a suspect by definition, and the only "winner" is the military-industrial complex. Welcome to Motown as Dronetown: "Nowhere to run to, baby, nowhere to hide…" Obama and the Dronellas, anyone?

    Pepe Escobar is the author of
    Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His most recent book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

    Thursday, June 14, 2012

    It doesn't matter which side we're working for, my boy

    "It doesn't matter which ZIOCONNED side we're working for, my boy! This is the future: one great big happy global Village...."

    Wednesday, June 13, 2012

    Towards a new Zioconned Arab cultural revolution....

    Towards a new Zioconned Arab cultural revolution....

    By Alastair Crooke

    The "Awakening" is taking a turn, very different to the excitement and promise with which it was hailed at the outset. Sired from an initial, broad popular impulse, it is becoming increasingly understood, and feared, as a nascent counter-revolutionary "cultural revolution" - a re-culturation of the region in the direction of a prescriptive canon that is emptying out those early high expectations, and which makes a mockery of the Zioconned West's continuing characterization of it as somehow a project of reform and democracy.

    Instead of yielding hope, its subsequent metamorphosis now gives rise to a mood of uncertainty and desperation - particularly among what are increasingly termed "'the minorities" - the non-Sunnis, in other words. This chill of apprehension takes its grip from certain Zioconned Gulf States' fervor for the restitution of a Sunni regional primacy - even, perhaps, of hegemony - to be attained through fanning rising Sunni militancy [1] and Salafist acculturation.

    At least seven Middle Eastern states are now beset by bitter, and increasingly violent, power struggles; states such as Lebanon, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain and Yemen are dismantling. Western states no longer trouble to conceal their aim of regime change in Syria, following Libya and the "non-regime-change" change in Yemen.

    The region already exists in a state of low intensity war: Zioconned Saudi Arabia and Qatar, bolstered by Zioconned Turkey and the Zioconned West, seem ready to stop at nothing to violently overthrow a fellow Arab head of state, President Bashar al-Assad - and to do whatever they can to hurt Iran.

    Iranians increasingly interpret Saudi Arabia's mood as a hungering for war; and Gulf statements do often have that edge of hysteria and aggression: a recent editorial in the Saudi-owned al-Hayat stated: "The climate in the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] indicates that matters are heading towards a GCC-Iranian-Russian confrontation on Syrian soil, similar to what took place in Afghanistan during the Cold War. To be sure, the decision has been taken to overthrow the Syrian regime, seeing as it is vital to the regional influence and hegemony of the Islamic Republic of Iran." [2]

    What genuine popular impulse there was at the outset of the "Awakening" has now been subsumed and absorbed into three major Zioconned political projects associated with this push to reassert primacy: a Muslim Brotherhood project, a Saudi-Qatari-Salafist project, and a militant Salafist project. No one really knows the nature of the Brotherhood project, whether it is that of a sect, or if it is truly mainstream [3]; and this opacity is giving rise to real fears.

    At times, the Brotherhood presents a pragmatic, even an uncomfortably accomodationist, face to the world, but other voices from the movement, more discretely evoke the air of something akin to the rhetoric of literal, intolerant and hegemonic Salafism. What is clear however is that the Brotherhood tone everywhere is increasingly one of militant sectarian grievance. And the shrill of this is heard plainly from Syria.

    The joint Zioconned Saudi-Salafist project was conceived as a direct counter to the Brotherhood project: the Saudi aim in liberally funding and supporting Saudi-orientated Salafists throughout the region has been precisely to contain and counter the influence of the Brotherhood [4] (eg in Egypt) and to undermine this strand of reformist Islamism, which is seen to constitute an existential threat to Gulf state autocracy: a reformism that precisely threatens the authority of those absolute monarchs.

    Zioconned Qatar pursues a somewhat different line to Zioconned Saudi Arabia. Whilst it too is firing-up, arming and funding militant Sunni movements [5], it is not so much attempting to contain and circumscribe the Brotherhood, Saudi-style, but rather to co-opt it with money; and to align it into the Saudi-Qatari aspiration for a Sunni power block that can contain Iran.

    Plainly the Brotherhood needs Gulf funding to pursue its aim of acquiring the prime seat at the region's table of power; and therefore the more explicitly sectarian, aggrieved discourse from the Brotherhood perhaps is a case of "he who pays the piper" ... Qatar and Saudi Arabia are both Wahhabi Salafist states.

    The third "project", also highly funded and armed by Zioconned Saudi Arabia and Qatar - uncompromising Sunni radicalism - forms the vanguard of this new "Cultural Revolution": It aims however not to contain, but simply to displace traditional Sunnism with the culture of Salafism. Unlike the Brotherhood, this element, whose influence is growing exponentially - thanks to a flood of Gulf dollars - has no political ambitions within the nation-state, per se.

    It abhors conventional politics, but it is nonetheless radically political: Its aim, no less, is to displace traditional Sunnism, with the narrow, black and white, right and wrong, certitude embedded in Wahhabi Salafism - including its particular emphasis on fealty to established authority and Sharia. More radical elements go further, and envision a subsequent stage of seizing and holding of territory for the establishment of true Islamic Emirates [6] and ultimately a Khilafah....or Khalifa....

    A huge cultural and political shift is underway: the "Salafisation" of traditional Sunni Islam: the sheering-away of traditional Islam from heterogeneity, and its old established co-habitation with other sects and ethnicities. It is a narrowing-down, an introversion into a more rigid clutching to the certainties of right and wrong, and to the imposition of these "truths" on society: it is no coincidence that those movements which do seek political office, at this time, are demanding the culture and education portfolios, rather than those of justice or security. [7]

    These Zioconned Gulf States' motives are plain: Qatari and Saudi dollars, coupled with the Saudi claim to be the legitimate successors to the Quraiysh (the Prophet's tribe), is intended to steer the Sunni "stirrings" in such a way that the absolute monarchies of the Gulf acquire their "re-legitimisation"' and can reassert a leadership through the spread of Salafist culture - with its obeisance towards established authority: specifically the Zioconned Saudi king.

    Historically some of the radical Sunni recipients of Saudi financial largesse however have also proved to be some of the most violent, literalist, intolerant and dangerous groups - both to other Muslims, as well as to all those who do not hold to their particular 'truth'. The last such substantive firing-up of such auxiliaries occurred at the time of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan - the consequences of which are still with us decades later today.

    But all these projects, whilst they may overlap in some parts, are in a fundamental way, competitors with each other. And they are all essentially "power" projects - projects intended to take power. Ultimately they will clash: Sunni on Sunni. This has already begun in the Levant - violently....

    Salafism both of the Saudi, and the of radical, orientation are being fired-up in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon [8], Egypt, north Africa, the Sahara, Nigeria, and the horn of Africa. No wonder Russia is concerned: Central Asia [9] is unlikely to prove immune either. Its leaders do recall, only too well, the impact on Russia's backyard, of that earlier "stirring" associated with Afghanistan.

    They find it difficult to understand how Zioconned Europeans can again "look aside" from what is occurring for the transient domestic "pleasures" of been seen to "take-down dictators", when this new radical stirring across the Zioconned Middle East, Africa and tentatively Central Asia, is happening right on Zioconned Europe's own doorstep - just across the Mediterranean.

    The evolving cultural shift has another dimension - one first pinpointed by the Zioconned Turkish foreign minister more than a year ago: The "Awakening", the minister said, marks the end of a historical chapter of the divisions imposed on Muslims by the great powers when they fragmented, and divided up the old provinces of [Sunni] Ottoman rule. Ahmet Davutoglu saw the "Awakening" principally as a "coming together" again of Muslims - an "undoing" of an historic fragmentation.

    Not surprisingly, this theme of a pan-Muslim community, and the reclaiming of the Sunni sphere, is increasingly heard today. [10] Davutoglu did not mention the word umma ; or community of believers, but many now are. And it is a discourse that greatly frightens the many in the region , who do not want to be labelled or treated as "minorities"; and thus forfeit their self-identity as equal citizens - with all its eerie echoes of the Ottoman Sunni Muslim hegemony. [11]

    This cultural shift toward re-imagining a wider Muslim polity (no one for now is suggesting dissolving their own nation-states, although the prime minister of Tunisia has suggested he anticipates the beginning of the Fourth Caliphate) holds important implications for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict too.

    Over recent years we have heard the Israelis emphasize their demand for recognition of a specifically Jewish nation-state, rather than for an Israeli State, per se. A Jewish state that in principle would remain open to any Jew seeking to return: a creation of a Jewish umma, as it were. Now it seems we have, in the western half of the Middle East, at least, a mirror trend, asking for the re-instatement of a wider Sunni nation - representing the 'undoing' of the last remnants of the colonial era.

    What will this mean for Palestine? Will the demand for Palestinians' legal rights to a nation-state, be affected too by this cultural impulse towards a wider Islamic nation and polity? Will we see Palestinian rights , grounded in the nation-state concept gradually metamorphosize into a more explicit, meta-national Islamic aspiration? Will we see the struggle increasing epitomized as a primordial struggle between Jewish and Islamic religious symbols - between al-Aqsa and the Temple Mount?

    It seems that both Israel and its surrounding terrain are marching in step toward language which takes them far away from the underlying, largely secular concepts by which this conflict traditionally has been conceptualized. What will be the consequence as the conflict, by its own logic, becomes a clash of religious poles?

    This prospect may sound gloomy to some - perhaps even a little threatening - but this is largely because the Middle East is so often approached without any real homework being done; without regard for international law; without regard for the UN charter, and without regard for the rights of nations to be themselves in their own way.

    Inherently unsound and inflated Western expectations - when they implode - always have resulted in the ubiquitous call for "something to be done" which now has come to mean "something being done" through by-passing international law, sovereignty and the UN, and dictated by an Orwellian, self-selecting, "Friends of …" grouping - however disastrous the consequences of "that something" may turn out to be.

    Syria has become the crucible of these external coercions; with events in Syria [12] being defined by this hugely potent deployed Gulf power for the purpose of building their "new Middle East"; rather than being defined by some over-simplistic narrative of reform versus repression, which sheers Syria away from its all-important context.

    Many Syrians see the struggle now not so much as one of reform - though all Syrians want that - but now as a more primordial, elemental fight to preserve the notion of Syria itself, a deep-rooted self-identity amidst fears that touch on the most sensitive, inflamed nerves within the Islamic world. Not surprisingly for many, security now trumps reform.

    Undoubtedly the region is entering a profound and turbulent struggle to define its future, and that of Islam. But this phase may not prove as defining as some may think (or hope): Whilst the Gulf has pursued its objectives a outrance, it is also vulnerable.

    The Zioconned Saudi king may aspire to unify the Zioconned Sunni world to his vision, but he is unlikely to succeed in this way: his harsh vendetta towards Assad is not unifying the region, it is souring it; and the recourse to militant Sunnism is fomenting civil, violent struggle in many states: in the Levant, and beyond, it is already pitting Sunni against Sunni.

    Syrian self-identity, as for many others in the region, was never a sectarian one, but was rooted in a belonging to one of the great nations of the region with a "model of society" which had "more religious freedom and tolerance … than in any other Arab country". [13]

    Syrians did not view themselves as primarily identified by sect. Zioconned Wahhabi-style sectarian intolerance is foreign to the Levant, even to Levant Sunnism. We are already witnessing, in Egypt, for example, push-back against movements seen to be motivated primarily by considerations of sect - even from those who see themselves as Islamist. They seek not another type of strait-jacket. The question is being asked: has the Brotherhood switched from "patience" to "domination"? There is a sense now of something fundamentally lost: with this Zioconned authoritarian re-culturization - where now is any real reforming, revolutionary zeal?

    Alastair Crooke, an MI6 agent, is founder and director of Conflicts Forum and is a former adviser to the former European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana from 1997-2003.

    The Ottomans are back! Well, not really where they wanted to be…, Hurriyet Daily News, April 27, 2012
    The Dangers of a Protracted Crisis in Syria, Al Arabiya English, March 3, 2012
    The Two Faces of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, Der Spiegel, May 22, 2012 4. Saudi Arabia Embraces Salafism: Countering The Arab Uprising? - Analysis, Eurasia Review, Jan 13, 2012
    Arab World: Qatar, Midwife of the new Arab world, Jerusalem Post, Jan 20, 2012
    A Sunni Emirate in the North, Al-Akhbar English, May 18, 2012
    The Two Faces of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, Der Spiegel, May 22, 2012 8. Lebanon's Sunni Street Takes Charge, Al-Akhbar English, May 21
    SCO struggles to counter Arab Spring, Russia & India Report, May 14, 2012
    Questions over Arab states' legitimacy, Gulf Times, May 23, 2012 11. Do Arabs want Turkey to lead the Arab awakening?, Hurriyet Daily News, May 1
    Tripoli Becoming Staging Area For Jihadists en Route to Syria, Al Monitor, May 23, 2012
    The Lebanonization of Syria, French Center for Intelligence Research, Jan 2012.