Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Drones take South China Sea plunge...

Drones take South China Sea plunge...
By Carl O Schuster

HONOLULU - While unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), widely known as "drones", have grabbed headlines and engaged heavily in America's ZIOCONNED overseas criminal wars, the technologies involved and their military advantages have quietly inspired a revolution in naval vessels, tactics and operations. The innovations promise to add new strategic dimensions to global maritime hot spots, including simmering tensions in the South China Sea.

Unmanned naval surface vessels were used as a form of guided weaponry in World War II, and the Cold War saw the advent of remotely piloted surface and underwater vehicles for the hunting and sweeping of naval mines. Those early "naval drones" were controlled by guidance signals sent over a wire that trailed from the back of the vehicle or, in the case of West Germany's "Troika" minesweeping system, via radio signals from a mother ship.

Technological advances have spurred the introduction of a growing range of unmanned underwater and surface vessels - UUVs and USVs, respectively. Autonomous variants, or AUVs and ASVs, are now also under development. Most have a reconnaissance mission but attack variants have already entered service and enhanced models are reportedly on the drawing board.

Like their aerial counterparts, unmanned naval vessels are intended to extend a commanders' view of the battle space and expand the fleet's area of control without increasing the number of ships, submarines and crewmen. They are smaller, more maneuverable and much harder to detect than manned systems. They typically are also cheaper to build and operate, a key factor as US defense spending faces significant future belt-tightening.

AUVs and UUVs also share their aerial brethren's reduced political sensitivity in their operations, witnessed in the mostly muted response to remote-controlled assassinations of terror suspects in theaters such as Afghanistan and remote areas of neighboring Pakistan. That may change, however, after the first USV is captured or recovered in a foreign harbor or contested maritime areas such as the South China Sea.

As was the case of UAVs, Israel has pioneered the use of modern unmanned naval vessels. Their so-called Protector USVs have been in service since 2009, used primarily to patrol off Lebanon's coast and monitor Hezbollah's activities and movements.

The Protector's small size - nine meters in length, 4,000 kilograms displacement and light composite material construction - make it especially difficult to detect and track. Its 50-knot maximum speed and high maneuverability, meanwhile, complicate any enemies' efforts to engage it.

Although light, its stabilized small-caliber automatic weapons system is accurate and sufficient to engage light craft utilized by terrorist groups trying to infiltrate or attack the Israeli coast. The latest model to enter production has a high-pressure hose system for non-lethal engagements against blockade runners trying to reach the Gaza Strip. It also has a second engine for propulsion, providing redundancy and increased reliability.

The US has followed Israel's example with a range of USVs now in testing. The first prototype was the Spartan Scout, a crewless rigid-hulled inflatable boat tested from 2001 through 2006. Weighing under two tonnes and carrying a .50 caliber machine gun, the Spartan Scout carried a range of electro-optical and infrared sensors as well as a small surface search radar.

Intended for operations from a standard surface ship, it was initially viewed as a means of extending a ship's presence and reach in surface surveillance and control missions. It was also viewed as a "proof-of-concept" vehicle to determine the future practicality and utility of USV operations.

The Spartan Scout's successful demonstration led to the Fleet-class USV designed for employment from America's Freedom- and Independence-class littoral combat ships. These unmanned units, classified as ships by the US Navy, are intended to extend littoral combat ships' presence, surveillance area and range of missions. Significantly, these USVs can be employed in mine, electronic and anti-submarine warfare as well as anti-piracy operations.

At 12 meters in length and displacing 7.7 tonnes, the Fleet-class USVs are larger than Israel's Protector and have a top speed of 35 knots and can carry up to 2,300 kilograms of equipment, either sensors, weapons or a combination of both. They are designed for up to 48 hours of autonomous operations and can be converted into a manned platform in under 24 hours. First delivered in 2008, the four units currently in fleet inventory are undergoing operation testing and expected to achieve initial operational capability by 2015.

Armed and dangerous
Three other USVs are under development in the US. The 16.5 meter Piranha USV concept, built almost entirely of the latest carbon-nanotube composite material and displacing just 3,600 kilograms, began testing in 2010. The naval drone can reportedly carry a payload exceeding 6,800 kilograms out to a range of over 2,170 nautical miles. It is being considered for a range of missions by the US Navy and Coast Guard, including harbor and coastal patrol, search and rescue, anti-piracy operations and anti-submarine warfare.

The US Navy is also testing autonomous and unmanned underwater vehicles (AUVs and UUVs). Autonomous underwater vehicles operate entirely along pre-programmed parameters, while UUVs include the capacity for control by a human operator and may be programmed to respond to changing circumstances that fall outside pre-mission expectations.

Commercial versions, used mainly for underwater surveys, marine biology research and maritime mapping, were first introduced in the 1990s. Modifying them for military applications and operations, however, required extensive development and testing programs of the technology needed for reliable control and recovery.

UUVs primary mission has focused on extending the surveillance capability and reach of the navy's submarine fleet. Early UUVs were designed specifically for launch from submarine torpedo tubes, with the first such mission launched in 2007. Although the launch was successful with the UUV returning to the mother sub, recovery proved complex.

That motivated the development of a Universal Launch and Recovery Module that enables a submarine to launch and recover larger, more capable UUVs. The module incorporates a powerful robotic arm that is used to recover the UUV and bring it aboard. Four Ohio-class former ballistic missile submarines have reportedly been modified into UUV carriers and the latest Virginia-class units will also be UUV, as well as UAV, capable.

Although fully capable autonomous AUVs and UUVs are not yet operational, the US Navy's 2004 Master Plan calls for a range of such units to be in service by 2015. Equipped with active sonar, and perhaps even non-acoustic sensors, they and their surface counterparts will be able to range far from their mother ships. They will specialize in conducting covert reconnaissance and surveillance of harbors, coastal and deep ocean waters, as well as searching for mines and submarines, without risking their mother ship's location.

It isn't clear yet how AUVs and UUVs will report what they find back to the mother ship, but the advent of blue-light laser communications systems will likely feed into a complex buoy-to-satellite-to-submarine system. While the command and control aspects of such operations have proven to be the greatest challenge in development, latest indications are that these technological hurdles are surmountable.

With naval drones promising to expand the capabilities of manned naval platforms and reduce both long-term and short-term personnel and operating costs, a growing range of nations apparently view these systems as an attractive option for meeting their maritime security needs.

Britain, Canada, France and India, to name but a few, have all stated their interest in naval drones; it would not be surprising to learn that other countries, including China and Russia, are studying, if not pursuing, development of their own unmanned naval systems.

Unmanned aerial and naval vehicles promise to revolutionize naval operations and warfare over the next decade. Their reliance on digital networks, computers, computer systems, and data links suggest that any fleet hoping to rely on unmanned systems must also dedicate a resources to dominating the electromagnetic and cyber spheres. In today's and tomorrow's strategic theaters, success in the physical world of maritime operations may well be determined by victory in virtual dimensions.

Carl O Schuster is a retired United States Navy Captain based in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Arab "Spring" comes to Zioconned Saudi Arabia...

The Arab "Spring" comes to Zioconned Saudi Arabia....

Of all the changes brought on by the Arab Spring, it is the ongoing unrest in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province – home to a large Shiite minority, and holding 90% of the country’s oil reserves – that could prove to be the most important in the long run.

When the Prophet Muhammad died in 632, tensions over who should lead the Islamic community – by that time covering almost the entirety of the Arabian Peninsula – emerged and persisted. On the one hand were those who favoured a succession that promoted the most qualified individual on the basis of wisdom, good conduct, devoutness and competence. This group came to be known as the Sunnis. The Shiites, for their part, believed that authority could only be exercised by members of the Prophet’s family. Unlike the Sunnis, they also saw the blood relatives of Muhammad as divinely inspired and infallible.

Today, most of the world’s Muslims are Sunni (around 85%) but Shiites are the majority in Iran, Iraq and Bahrain; and sizable populations live in Lebanon, Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE, Yemen and, perhaps most significantly, Saudi Arabia.

Estimated to number between 1.5- and 2-million people, the Shiites in Saudi Arabia make up 10% of the national population, and have experienced widespread discrimination since the founding of the Saudi Kingdom in 1932. As far as the religious realm is concerned, this has included bans on practicing their faith in public, restrictions on the building of mosques, and attacks on centres of learning and other gathering places.

At the political level, Shiites have been prevented from serving as cabinet ministers, and faced exclusion from the armed forces and police while the Eastern Province has been ruled over by an administration dominated by Sunni Muslims (who form the 90% majority in Saudi Arabia). Socially, they are viewed as heretics by much of the population, an attitude that has been encouraged by the ultraconservative clerics belonging to the Wahhabi branch of Sunni Islam that dominates in Saudi Arabia.

Inspired by the Arab Spring, Saudi Shiite demonstrators have become increasingly vocal in demanding an end to their marginalized position. Sporadic protests that began peacefully in February 2011 have now turned violent, most recently in early August in the eastern city of Qatif after demonstrators clashed with police.

Although only around a dozen have been killed – relatively low by the standards of the violence that took place in Egypt and Libya, not to mention the ongoing massacres in Syria – the conflict could escalate, posing serious challenges for the Saudi authorities and the world economy.

Saudi Arabia currently produces more than 9 million barrels of oil per day (about 12% of global output). Even a minor disruption in this supply would send oil prices soaring to levels that would make any chance of a global economic recovery very difficult, if not impossible, to achieve.

As with other manifestations of Sunni-Shiite tension in the Middle East, none of this has much to do with genuine religious differences. Instead, the divide is rooted in more subtle, political concerns.

The Shiites’ presence challenges the Wahhabi foundations of the theocratic state that has served as a binding identity, linking Saudi leaders with the broader population. As such, giving in to Shiite demands threatens to undue an important source of political order.

Even more important is the oil factor. As the world’s largest oil exporter, the Saudi state has been able to bribe its people with a variety of benefits in exchange for their obedience. The reaction to the Arab Spring is only one example of the sort of policies that has helped quell any potential uprising over the years. Following the ouster of Ben Ali in Tunisia and Mubarak in Egypt, Saudi leaders announced a $130-billion spending package that would be used to raise the salaries of government employees – most employed Saudis work in the public sector – and build 500,000 homes for the poor.

Calls for an end to Shiite discrimination, at least from the perspective of Saudi leaders, come off as disguised attempts to capture control over the Eastern Province, its oil, and the system of domination it has made possible. This view persists despite the fact that the recent protests have not emphasized a desire for autonomy (although some Shiite activists have proposed reforms in the past, such as a constitution and legislative assembly for the Eastern Province, which hint at precisely this outcome).

Unsurprisingly, the Saudi authorities have not acted to change the status quo and continue to invest billions in military equipment – from fighter jets to tanks – that could be used to suppress a rebellion. But ignoring Shiite grievances is bound to make the situation in the Eastern Province even more unstable, as the examples of Egypt, Libya and Syria all make clear.

Though the Shiite opposition is weak, it also has a potentially devastating trump card: access to vital oil pipeline networks that could easily be attacked if their plight remains unchanged. If and when that happens, there will be more at stake than a rise in the oil price.

National Post

Peter Fragiskatos holds a PhD in International Relations from Cambridge University, and teaches at Western University in London, Canada.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Dance of the Vanities, Thoroughbred loose on the Kyrgyz steppes...

Dance of the Vanities, Thoroughbred loose on the Kyrgyz steppes...
By M K Bhadrakumar;

The great game in Central Asia has a history of occasionally turning rough. Turkey may have become its latest victim...

Prima facie, there is nothing linking Turkish President Abdullah Gul's health condition, an English stud horse by the name Islander One and the extension of the lease for the United States air base at Manas in Kyrgyzstan.

But Gul, being a gifted politician, apparently sensed there could well be, and after landing at Bishkek on the eve of the summit meeting of the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States (CCTSS) taking place in the Kyrgyz capital on Thursday, he had the premonition that a political storm was about to break out in the steppes, and he quickly made himself scarce.

Without attending the summit of the CCTSS, despite it being the flag-carrier of Turkey's regional diplomacy in Central Asia, Gul expressed regret to his hosts that he was suffering from a recurring ear ache and needed to return forthwith to Ankara for medicare. And he abruptly ended his visit.

Sheer originality
On Thursday the storm did break out. Kyrgyzstan's government disintegrated irreversibly through the day when two of the coalition partners quit the ruling alliance, alleging serious corruption charges against Prime Minister Omurbek Babanov. The most serious allegation against Babanov is that he accepted as a bribe an English thoroughbred stud horse worth US$1.3 million from a Turkish construction company that has been awarded contracts for building an air traffic control tower and runways at the Manas air base.

Babanov claims he bought the stud horse for only $20,000, while the Turkish company says it won the Pentagon contract on its own steam as an experienced military contractor; but it seems there are no takers in the Kyrgyz political class for these versions.
Indeed, the connection between the stud horse and the Turkish government, if any, remains unclear. Nor is it clear whether the Turkish contractor was keeping the Pentagon in the loop that it was spending quality time and money making friends and influencing people in the Kyrgyz power structure, which is all for the good of the Manas base. The Pentagon is wisely keeping mum.

The air base has been embroiled in salacious controversies and sleaze several times in the recent years, but this one probably beats them all in sheer originality - a British stud horse doing political canvassing for its upgrade.

The Pentagon has been hoping against hope that the lease for Manas would be extended beyond 2014 when it expires, but against the shadow of the latest controversy, it seems unlikely that any serious Kyrgyz politician would want to jeopardize his career by reversing the initial thinking of the Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev, which is to convert the military base into a civilian airport and get rid of the American servicemen.

With the collapse of Babanov's government on Thursday, Kyrgyzstan is probably plunging into protracted political instability. Of course, the stud horse provides a pretext; Kyrgyz politics was becoming turbulent lately. Simply put, Kyrgyz politicians have not been able to adapt themselves to the parliamentary system of government that was introduced two years ago - ironically, on the insistence of the US advisors of the then interim president, Roza Otunbayeva.

Ever since the abortive "color revolution" in 2005 (known as the Tulip Revolution), a steady process of fragmentation of the Kyrgyz political economy has been going on, and things have come to a pass that no political party can today aspire to get more than 10% to 20% of the seats in parliament, and coalition governments and chronic in-fighting amongst (and within) the political parties has become the order of the day.

Provider of security
With Babanov stepping down, the locus of power shifts to President Atambayev, who will play a key role in the selection of a new prime minister. Much executive power may accrue to Atambayev, since in all likelihood Kyrgyzstan may have to settle for a minority government that will be bogged down in the struggle to survive. Meanwhile, a major decision like the extension of the lease for Manas will become problematic to steer through a rambunctious parliament.

At any rate, Atambayev never appeared keen on a permanent US military base on Kyrgyz soil. This is so especially now, after having satisfactorily negotiated three significant agreements with Russia last week, which ensure deep long-term engagement by Moscow in the Kyrgyzstan's economy and security. Arguably, at this point, Atambayev may even be quietly pleased to see the back of Babanov and have a shot at holding the levers of power in his firm hands - with the high likelihood of Russian support, of course.

The three agreements negotiated between Moscow and Bishkek last week envisage, first, Russia's participation in the construction of the massive multi-billion dollar Kambarata-1 hydropower plant on the Verkhny Naryn cascade. This is not a matter of dam construction alone or spending a few billion dollars on it by Russia. To cut a long story short, a Russian official has been quoted by Kommersant newspaper as saying:
The engagement in this strategic economic sector of Kyrgyzstan will build up the significance of Moscow's partnership with Bishkek and strengthen the Russian influence on the geopolitics of the entire region.
The second agreement visualizes Moscow writing off almost the entire $500 million that Kyrgyzstan owes as debt to Russia. Conceivably, part of the debt could be offset against Russia acquiring stakes in Kyrgyz assets such as the Dastan torpedo plant. The Russian energy leviathan Gazprom is also looking for a still bigger presence business in Kyrgyzstan.

The third agreement relates to the extension of the Russian military bases in Kyrgyzstan for 15 years beyond 2017, with provision to extend the agreement. To all extent and purposes, Russia is consolidating its military presence in Kyrgyzstan and in turn becoming the provider of security for that country. The contentious issue of the rent for the Russian bases seems to be resolved.

Put differently, the strengthening of Atambayev's hands following the collapse of the government and the disarray in the Kyrgyz party politics could work to Russia's advantage. Moscow can be expected to remind Atambayev to redeem at the earliest his pledge that Manas base will be converted into a civilian airport. The US has its own lobby amongst the Kyrgyz political parties - and civil society groups - and was counting on the Kyrgyz parliamentary system to diffuse the decision-making authority, but that may not help unless the country has a functioning parliament and government.

A Maginot Line in the steppes
Meanwhile, Moscow is working on Kyrgyzstan's request to join the customs union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, which will make Bishkek a strategic ally. Atambayev is a votary of Kyrgyzstan's greater integration with the Moscow-led regional processes. As things stand, Moscow already views Kyrgyzstan as its closest partner in Central Asia, next only to Kazakhstan.

There is a sense of urgency in Moscow over firming up the strategic alliance with Bishkek, in response to recent moves by the US to establish a long-term military presence in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is planning to visit Dushanbe and Tashkent on October 21-22. This will be her second visit to Central Asia in successive years, underscoring the high importance attached by Washington to cull out a "sphere of influence" in the region, keeping in view the imperatives of the long-term US military presence in Afghanistan. Uzbekistan and Tajikistan have been targeted as the key countries in the US regional strategy.

Russian pundits see the recent talks between visiting US officials and the Uzbek leadership in Tashkent as aimed at setting up a rapid deployment centre in Uzbekistan, which could eventually become a US military base, where North Atlantic Treaty Organization military equipment could also be stored following the drawdown in Afghanistan during 2013-14.

The Russian experts view the decision by Tashkent to suspend its membership of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) as a preliminary step in this direction. The CSTO expressly forbids the setting up of military bases by outside powers on the alliance's territories without the approval of all the member countries.

Thus, Moscow has actually taken a big decision to construct the Kambarata-1 hydropower plant in Kyrgyzstan disregarding Tashkent's known opposition to the construction of dams in the upstream rivers in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, which supply water for Uzbekistan's needs. In short, Kyrgyzstan becomes a sort of Maginot Line in the Russian strategy in the southern tier of Central Asia. On the one hand, Moscow is preparing to sit out Tashkent's shift in foreign policy, while on the other hand, it can now be expected to make a determined bid in the coming weeks to regain its lost influence in Tajikistan.

Indeed, Islander One has lethally wounded "neo-Ottoman" Turkey's vanities in Central Asia. Now, as the Kyrgyz intelligence agency known by its acronym GKNB (which is the successor organization of Soviet-era KGB) begins to dig for the family tree of Islander One - and if it stumbles upon its DNA sample - the carefully cultivated Turkish and the US profile in Central Asia as benign foreign powers could take a beating. Even Tashkent might develop second thoughts about the wisdom of venturing into the dark, leaving the CSTO tent.

This is happening at a most inopportune moment for the US, when the Great Game in Central Asia is rising to a crescendo, and for serious players there is very little time to be lost between now and 2014 when, as the Americans would say, a new ball game is set to begin.

Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. His assignments included the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Yugoslavia was the pilot project and the proving grounds for the thousands of Tribes with Flags that will populate MENA, Africa and EURASIA...

Yugoslavia was the pilot project and the proving grounds for the thousands of Tribes with Flags that will populate MENA, Africa and EURASIA...

Yugoslavia was the pilot project and the proving grounds where everything was developed and first tried - from Soros' color revolutions, to the massive psyops on how to get social and ethnic groups to fight, also importing various groups (Bosnian president Izetbegovic per the Zioconned and utterly corrupt and criminal western elites instructions imported Wahhabi en masse to Bosnia for the purpose of inciting sectarian warfare), how the groups were polarized and hustled into massive bloodshed, the collapse, R2P (it was not yet a UN policy but R2P was developed on the killing grounds of Yugoslavia also), the aftermath where Zioconned criminal western elites bought everything from banks, to businesses to hard Drugs havens in Kosovo and elsewhere....
This documentary makes so many important points that it is worth watching more than once just to know what is around the bend for the rest of the world. Aside from the balkanization itself - watch the parts of the early psyops on Yugoslavia and how religious, ethnic and social groups were psyopped and pitted against each other, gradually ratcheting up the engineered tension until there were the first dead people in the streets. That is the exact recipe I recognize playing out in Russia right now with these contrived anti-Putin protests and Pussy Riot and FEMEN....the idea is to polarize until massive fighting erupts.
Yes, Clinton ordered the 5,000 dead. The details were - he wanted a NATO intervention (which was the pilot project which later led to the UN policy we know as R2P). In order to justify it, he ordered 5,000 dead Muslims. Dutchbat assisted in the genocide - the Dutch Battalion of the UN. Queen Beatrix herself is rumored to have attended to watch - Bosnian women describe recognizing here there. This was a planned event - the UN herded all males into the killing grounds where Mladic's troops killed 6,000 or so...and the UN herded the women and small children onto buses and evacuated them. Genocide is not that neat if it is spontaneous - the women would have all been raped, the kids all killed. But this Srebrenica massacre was an exercise in discipline with only males singled out and the UN "rescuing" the females....Clinton got his war out of it, too....
This documentary is by far the best ever (most detailed and only one which is not pro-western skewed) made about the Balkans war. It is slightly tilted in a pro-Serbian direction and it air-brushes out some flaws (it neglects to tell viewers why the rest of the Balkans were so angry with Serbs - there were legit reasons - the problems were created by the elites who always controlled (former banker and best friend of L. Eagleburger) Slobodan Milosevic from above the Serbs but nevertheless, the Serbs did their part in getting everyone else angry. Not telling that story leaves one wondering why the rest of Yugoslavia conspired to get rid of Serbian leadership but these omissions do not alter the real story which is what the western elites did intentionally to Yugoslavia with their manipulation...). Serbs have not had a voice internationally at all since this Balkans war began and while the suffering of all other groups at the hands of Serbs (which DID happen as all other atrocities did happen - by engineering from outside) was highlighted and often exaggerated in western MSM, nobody ever told the story of Serbs and it was refreshing to finally see that, too.

And most importantly, so far it is also the only documentary ever made which clearly shows the template which is being used for deconstructing country after country - from psyops, color revolutions, advancing the agenda to death squads and blaming the 'other' groups being groomed for conflict for the first hate crimes, through engineered genocide, all the way through R2P and the aftermath of Rothschild agents buying up the shards of the country. Showing this sequence is where the brilliance of this documentary lies and it is the first real piece of work which connects the entire path from first unrest which looks like Pussy Riot type activity all the way to engineered destruction of a country.

There is something else on the horizon - a part 2 to this documentary - apparently, it is the analysis of what the seven new Yugoslavias look like today (that is worth a look for sure because the seven balkanized Yugoslavia McNuggets were the first victims and by timeline alone are farther along the path of rothschildification than other nations who fell victim to the same nation-building scheme since Yugoslavia and it is definitely worth a look at the seven new post-Yugoslavia serfdoms to see where this path the world is being guided along takes us as humanity - and part 2 also promises to suggest some solutions on what to do in the seven new balkanized Yugoslavias under Rothschild siege now....here is that trailer:

America's Long-standing Campaign to Destabilize Russia...

America's Long-standing Criminal Campaign to Destabilize Russia...

The shootings and bombings in Ingushetia and Dagestan this week rekindled a long-standing, brutal campaign of violence and terrorism in Russia’s Caucasus region – one that has seen more than its share of terror stretching back to the Chechen “rebellion” of the 1990s. However, in examining the recent attacks, it becomes clear that there are political and geopolitical interests behind the scenes that are actively working to destabilize Russia, with violence as their most potent weapon. The attacks are not simply isolated terrorist actions, but rather, cynically orchestrated events carried out by well-connected criminal networks whose goal is to foment conflict and carry out the agenda of the US intelligence establishment in its subversion of Russia.
Terrorists, Propagandists and Handlers
The complex network of terrorist organizations that operate under the banners of “separatism” and “independence” for the Caucasus region, has been at the center of the destabilization of Russia for the last two decades. Within hours of the deadly attacks, the Kavkaz Center – an organization known to be the propaganda mouthpiece of terrorist leader Doku Umarov – released an article characterizing the attacks as heroic acts and referring to the dead as “Russian puppets.” Though this would seem to be not in keeping with the Center’s stated mission “to provide reporting of events…and assistance of journalistic work in the Caucasus,” this is, in fact, very much par for the course for an organization that is funded by the US State Department and Finland’s Foreign Ministry.
Kavkaz Center has a long track record of supporting and legitimizing terrorist actions throughout the region, rationalizing atrocities committed in the name of “resistance.” In fact, Kavkaz engages in perpetual upside-down logic, referring to Russians as “terrorists” and terrorists as “heroes.” This type of Goebbles-esque propaganda is the hallmark of Western imperialist projects; most recently in the conflict in Syria, in which the Syrian National Council, Western corporate media and the like refer to terrorism and subversion as “rebellion and freedom-fighting”. Additionally, it is essential to note that Emarat Kavkaz (Umarov’s terrorist organization translated as “Caucasus Emirate”) has been listed by the United Nations as an organization associated with Al-Qaida. Kavkaz Center has been described by Umarov himself as “the official information organ of the Emarat Kavkaz.” This, of course, supports the claims made repeatedly by Moscow of the connection between Chechen and other extremists in the region and Al Qaida, a claim which, until recently, Kavkaz Center continued to deny.
Despite the fact that organs such as Kavkaz Center operate in the service of terrorists who advocate the destruction of Russia, their activity alone is not altogether significant if seen in a vacuum. Rather, it is the association of these types of individuals and organizations with the US State Department and US intelligence that makes them particularly insidious. One such entity that bears scrutiny is the American Committee for Peace in the Caucasus (ACPC), previously known as the American Committee for Peace in Chechnya. As reported by Right Web at the Institute for Policy Studies, “The ACPC was founded in 1999 by Freedom House, a neoconservative organization that has worked closely with the U.S. government, receiving funds from the National Endowment for Democracy and other U.S. democratization initiatives.” This intimate relationship between the ACPC and the US State Department indicates not merely a confluence of interests, but rather a direct relationship wherein the former is an organ of the latter.
The paternalistic role of the US intelligence establishment in the ACPC is made all the more evident when one examines some of the more well known members of the ACPC including former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, former Pentagon advisor Richard Perle and other top neocons such as William Kristol, Elliott Abrams, Kenneth Adelman, and Robert Kagan – the last two being closely associated with the inner circle of the Romney campaign. What becomes apparent in even a cursory analysis of these figures is that, despite the preponderance of neoconservatives, the top members of the ACPC are pulled from both the liberal and conservative establishments. Therefore, one can see how the ACPC represents a bipartisan consensus within the US imperialist ruling class – a consensus of aggression against Russia. What should be even more concerning to political observers is that, given the very real possibility of a Romney victory in November, Russia may see a surge in separatism and violence supported overtly or covertly by the ACPC and a future Romney administration.
The ACPC has taken the lead in championing the cause of separatism and terrorism directed toward Russia, both tacitly and overtly. After having championed the cause of former Chechen Foreign Minister Ilyas Akhmadov in his quest for asylum in the United States – subsequently granted along with a generous taxpayer-funded stipend – ACPC member Zbigniew Brzezinski went so far as to write the foreward to Akhmadov’s book The Chechen Struggle. The alliance between political figures such as Akhmadov and terrorist leaders in the region demonstrates conclusively the partnership between the various terror networks and the imperialist ruling class in the West. Moreover, it shows that, along with oligarchs such as Boris Berezovsky and Roman Abramovich, the US and UK are still the favorite safe havens for criminals fleeing Russian justice.
The Political Context
Although the attacks of this week are tragic, their real significance is political in nature. There has been a sustained destabilization campaign waged by the West, particularly the United States, and aimed at President Putin going back to last December and the beginning of the so-called protest movement. The attempt by the Western imperialists has been to isolate Putin, demonize him, and erode his support within the country in hopes of toppling his government, thereby removing the biggest obstacle they face in implementing their hegemonic agenda. However, despite the financial backing, political demagoguery and media inundation, the attempts have entirely failed.
Once it became clear that Vladimir Putin would be reelected to a third term, the US State Department began its campaign against him. Organized and implemented by US Ambassador Michael McFaul in Moscow, the protest movement led by figures such as Alexei Navalny and Boris Nemtsov as well as US-funded NGOs such as GOLOS and the Moscow Helsinki Group, the movement essentially sought to instigate a “color revolution” in Russia using the same tactics that had been successful in Ukraine, Georgia and elsewhere. However, it was soon quite obvious to political observers in Russia and around the world that this movement was nothing more than a superficial destabilization attempt that had no real traction among the Russian people.
Because of the failure of this manufactured protest movement, the tactics of subversion had to change. The imperialists had to incorporate new tactics that would either revive and grow the protest movement or inspire an international outcry. And so, we get the controversy surrounding the feminist punk band Pussy Riot. The Western media has attempted to hold up the band, which engaged in obscene and lewd acts inside a Russian church, as crusaders and martyrs for the cause of free speech. Naturally, this utterly transparent and vacuous attempt to whip up anti-Putin sentiment has, like the protest movement before it, sputtered and stalled. And so, as every covert attempt at subversion through the use of “soft power” has failed, the Western imperialists now activate their terror networks in the Caucasus to do by force what their intelligence networks failed to do by stealth: destabilize Russia.
The Geopolitical Calculus
The seemingly endless attempts to subvert the Putin government are cynically designed operations whose overarching goal is geopolitical in nature. To the US and its allies, partners, and clients, Putin represents a block that is difficult, if not impossible, to maneuver around. As demonstrated clearly in Syria, President Putin is able to successfully lead an opposition to the ZIOCONNED United States: an empire attempting to impose its hegemonic designs on the region. By using international law, the principle of national sovereignty, counter-propaganda, and countless other diplomatic weapons, Putin, along with his allies in China, has prevented the wider war that the US has tried to foment. Moreover, Putin has presented a major roadblock on the path to war with Iran, another mortal sin in the eyes of Western imperialist warmongers.
Putin’s “crimes” do not stop there. He has managed to successfully assert the right of national sovereignty over state resources, jailing or otherwise diminishing the power of the oligarchs who enriched themselves in the 1990s at the expense of the Russian people. He has successfully established the legitimacy of international institutions such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and BRICS that exist outside the dominance of the United States and have begun to emerge as a counter-weight to NATO and other similar arms of US imperialism. Putin has also led the economic resurgence of Russia and maintained its dominance in the energy market with pipelines, exploration, and myriad deals with multinational corporations.
The common thread that unites the above mentioned achievements of President Putin is an unwillingness to be subservient to the United States. Putin has become, in the eyes of the Western imperialist ruling class, the unruly little brother who must be taught a lesson by force. And so, innocent Russians must pay with their lives for the hubris of these imperialists. As has been clearly demonstrated in Syria, Iran, Pakistan and countless other places around the world, terrorism remains the favorite weapon in the arsenal of the ruling class in the West. The attacks in Ingushetia and Dagestan are merely the latest example of this. Surely, they will not be the last....

Ziocon War fever as seen from Iran....



By Pepe Escobar;


Absent the possibility of joining the Curiosity rover on Mars, there's nowhere to hide from the "Bomb Iran" hysteria relentlessly emanating from Tel Aviv and its Washington outposts. Now that even includes third-rate hacks suggesting US President Barack Obama should go in person to Israel to appease the warmongering duo Bibi-Barak [1].

So it's time for something completely different - and totally absent from Western corporate media; sound Iranian minds rationally analyzing what's really going on behind the drums of war - regarding Iran, Turkey, the Arab world and across Eurasia.

Let's start with ambassador Hossein Mousavian, a researchscholar at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, a former spokesperson for the Iranian nuclear negotiating team from 2003 to 2005, and the author of The Iranian Nuclear Crisis: A Memoir .

Writing at the Arms Control Association website [2] , Mousavian goes straight to the point; "The history of Iran's nuclear program suggests that the West is inadvertently pushing Iran toward nuclear weapons."

In seven key steps, he outlines how this happened - starting with Iran's "entrance into the nuclear field", owed largely, by the way, to Washington; "In the 1970s, the Shah [of Iran] had ambitious plans for expanding the nuclear program, envisioning 23 nuclear power plants by 1994, with support from the United States."

Mousavian stresses how, from 2003 to 2005, during the first Bush administration,
Iran submitted different [nuclear] proposals, which included a declaration to cap enrichment at the 5% level; export all low-enriched uranium (LEU) or fabricate it into fuel rods; commit to an additional protocol to its IAEA safeguards agreement and to Code 3.1 of the subsidiary arrangements to the agreement, which would provide the maximum level of transparency; and allow the IAEA to make snap inspections of undeclared facilities. This offer was intended to address the West's concerns regarding the nature of Iran's nuclear program by ensuring that no enriched uranium would be diverted to a nuclear weapons program. It also would have facilitated the recognition of Iran's right to enrichment under the NPT. In exchange for these Iranian commitments, the Iranian nuclear file at the IAEA would be normalized, and Iran would have broader political, economic, and security cooperation with the European Union. Furthermore, Iran was interested in securing fuel for the research reactor in Tehran and was ready to ship its enriched uranium to another country for fabrication into fuel rods.
The Bush administration refused everything. Mousavian recalls "a meeting I had at the time with French Ambassador to Iran Francois Nicoullaud, he told me, "For the US, the enrichment in Iran is a red line which the European Union cannot cross."

So "the West was not interested in solving the nuclear issue. Rather, the West wanted to compel Iran to forgo its enrichment program completely." This could only lead Tehran to "change its nuclear diplomacy and accelerate its enrichment program, as it sought self-sufficiency in nuclear fuel."

'Zero stockpile', anyone?
Fast forward to February 2010. Tehran proposed, "keeping its enrichment activities below 5% in return for the West providing fuel rods for the Tehran reactor. The West refused this offer."

Then, in May 2010, "Iran reached a deal with Brazil and Turkey to swap its stockpile of LEU for research reactor fuel. The deal was based on a proposal first drafted by the Obama administration with Brazilian and Turkish officials under the impression that they had the blessing of Washington to negotiate with Iran. Regrettably, the United States trampled on their success by rejecting the plan; the UN Security Council subsequently passed additional sanctions against Iran."

Every unbiased observer following the Iranian nuclear dossier knows these facts. Another flash forward, to September 2011, "when Iran had completely mastered 20% enrichment and had a growing stockpile, it proposed stopping its 20%-enrichment activities and accepting Western-provided fuel rods for the Tehran reactor. Once again, the West declined and made it necessary for the Iranians to move toward producing their own fuel rods."

Moving on to this year's talks in Istanbul and Baghdad, Mousavian stresses, "with each blockage and punitive Western action, Iran further advances its nuclear program."

And it gets worse; "A comparison of the June 19 statement in Moscow by Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief and lead negotiator for the P5+1, with her April 14 Istanbul statement reveals a major difference. The P5+1 is now giving more emphasis to Iran's compliance with its international obligations, namely, UN Security Council resolutions, rather than focusing on the country's obligations under the NPT. This is a clear setback from the Istanbul position. It indicates a focus on suspension of Iran's enrichment activities, a demand that has been a deal breaker since 2003."

The bottom line is "not only has the West pushed Iran to seek self-sufficiency, but at every juncture, it has tried to deprive Iran of its inalienable right to enrichment. This has simply propelled Iran to proceed full throttle toward mastering nuclear technology."

The conclusion is inevitable; "The progress of Iran's nuclear program is the product of Western efforts to pressure and isolate Iran while refusing to recognize Iran's rights."

Washington and its European followers simply can't understand that "sanctions, isolation, and threats would not bring Iran to its knees. On the contrary, these policies have led only to the advancement of Iran's nuclear program." With even more devastating sanctions and the "Bomb Iran" fever turning into an attack, one consequence, says Mousavian, is assured; "Iran would be likely to withdraw from the NPT and pursue nuclear weapons."

What makes it even more absurd is that there is a solution to all this madness:
To satisfy the concerns of the West regarding Iran's 20% stockpile, a mutually acceptable solution for the long term would entail a "zero stockpile". Under this approach, a joint committee of the P5+1 and Iran would quantify the domestic needs of Iran for use of 20% enriched uranium, and any quantity beyond that amount would be sold in the international market or immediately converted back to an enrichment level of 3.5%. This would ensure that Iran does not possess excess 20% enriched uranium forever, satisfying the international concerns that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons. It would be a face-saving solution for all parties as it would recognize Iran's right to enrichment and would help to negate concerns that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons.
Will Washington - and Tel Aviv - ever accept it? Of course not. The dogs of war will keep on barking.

A new security game
It's also quite refreshing to examine Iranian analysts' take on Syria.

Mehdi Mohammadi, writing at the IranNuc.IR website [3] notes "the fear that the Sunni majority has of a Salafi minority is a very important, and often censored, reality about the situation on the ground in Syria. It is the same reality which has prevented the opposition to accept any form of negotiations or even free elections". This fact is absolutely anathema in Western corporate media's coverage of Syria.

Mohammadi correctly evaluates the discrepancies among different Muslim Brotherhood (MB) factions inside Syria; one hardline faction wants Sharia law; another is convinced the future of the whole region is essentially at the hands of the MB anyway, so they are on a mission from God; but the majority wants to extract as much money as they can from Saudi Arabia while allied with France, the US, Sunnis in Lebanon and Jordan; "this part forms the spine of the armed opposition in Syria".

The bottom line is that even in the best-case scenario, the MB "is making a dire strategic mistake ... Even if Assad's government falls, the Americans will not allow the Syrian government to fall into the hands of that part of the Muslim Brotherhood which seeks to continue and even give more depth to the existing conflict with Israel."

Mohammadi also observes, right on the money, how the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey "reached the conclusion that the best way for preventing Arab Spring developments to serve Iran's increasing power in the region was to turn the whole situation into a conflict between Shi'ites and Sunnis."

Essentially, how does Tehran see it? According to Mohammadi, "there is a high degree of confidence that the Syrian government will not fall in medium term." On top of it, "it is very unlikely that Russia and China will reach an agreement with the West over Syria", and "even on Iran's nuclear dossier".
So Tehran is betting on the strategic achievement of a "reliable anti-West front consisting of Russia and China". His conclusion; "The strategic equation of the region as a result of the ongoing developments in Syria has by no means changed to the detriment of Iran."

In an interview to the Iranian Diplomacy (IRD) website [4] former ambassador and strategic analyst Mohammad Farhad Koleini comments on how "some Arab countries, which have very bleak records in the field of human rights, have joined hands with the United States in the current equation in Syria in order to define a new security game. This security game, however, has been somismanaged that it will certainly taint the international image of the United States."

Koleini notes that as the West goes for a new security arrangement in the Mediterranean, Moscow is trying "not to allow the West to impose its geopolitical monopoly." So the Russian approach to Syria "is not necessarily focused on what is actually going on inside the country, but it stems from a regional package and how Moscow aims to regulate that package in relation to its interactions with the West."

That explains why Russia "will never allow Western states to impose a no-fly zone region over Syria". Is this confrontation? Not really; "Russia is doing its best to avoid outright confrontation by any means. China has also shown all along the way that it is following the same policy."

Mehdi Sanaei, the director of the Russia Studies Group at the University of Tehran and the director of the Iran and Eurasia Research Center (IRAS), writing at the Tabnak News website[5] goes way deeper; Moscow is now working under "unprecedented suspicion of the United States' goals and intentions in the Middle East and Eurasia."

So forget about the famous "reset" between Washington and Moscow.

Sanaei refers to the famous foreign policy article [6] published by Putin on the eve of the Russian presidential election: "Putin took a direct shot at the United States by accusing Washington of deception and abuse of the UN structure and resolutions, applying double standards to various global issues in different countries, as well as seeking its own interests under the cover of advocating democracy."

Sanaei also correctly describes how Russian analysts see the Obama administration's foreign policy as "based on two theories: 'ultimate realism', and 'new liberalism.' As a result, the Americans actually believe that world countries are simply divided into the United States' friends and enemies. Hostile countries, therefore, should be weakened and their presence in global and regional strategic arenas should be limited and even suppressed in political, economic and cultural terms."

So, for Moscow, "a new wave of the world order has been initiated by the United States in order to create a new version of the past unipolar world system. The main targets of this wave, Moscow maintains, include North Africa, the Middle East, Iran, Eurasia, and finally China and Russia."

Koleini, this time writing for the Tehran Emrooz daily [7], introduces the Pipelineistan theme in the Iran-Russia relationship; "Despite its cooperation with Iran's nuclear energy program, Russia has been always willing to cut Iran's hand in the European natural gas market. Therefore, Russia has been interacting with Turkey and certain Eastern European countries on the Blue Stream project. This proves beyond any doubt that Russia is trying to take the lead in engineering security structure in Europe through its energy policy and reduce Europe's reliance on other energy sources."

All this while "trying to play a balancing role in Iran's nuclear case."

Koleini also outlines the main challenge to the "Eurasian policy" laid out by Putin before his election; "The point is that the West is designing new political games, especially in Central Asia to give new problems to Russia and divert Moscow's attention from Eurasia to traditional spheres of the former Soviet Union."

Egypt and Iran kiss and make up
Iranian intellectuals are carefully monitoring neighboring Turkey. Turkey and Caucasus expert Elyas Vahedi observes how "the Turkish government came up with such concepts as 'neither state religion, nor religious state,' 'secular government, not secular man,' 'civilizing the constitution,' 'democratic openness / Kurdish openness / Alawite openness,' and 'civil control and supervision over the army' and has been using them to strengthen and maintain the political clout of the Justice and Development Party."
And of course, before the Arab Spring, all talk was about "zero problems with our neighbors" and Turkey's "strategic depth" doctrine.

But now that Turkey is stuck in Syria, the AKP government is "trying to justify its failure by claiming that the policy of minimizing problems with neighboring countries has just entered is second phase ... Turkey believes that the main feature of the second version of this policy is interaction with people in neighboring countries rather than interaction with their governments."

It simply doesn't hold, says Vahedi: "This viewpoint, despite some shortcomings, was somehow justifiable in some countries like Libya, Egypt and Tunisia, but this is not the case in Syria." Besides, Ankara "remained silent toward the predicament of people in Bahrain, under the pretext that political protests in Bahrain are not popular."

Moreover, Turkey's foreign policy "has also nurtured speculations that Ankara has joined the Shi'ite-Sunni conflict which has been fostered by the West. The damage that this notion will do to Turkey's regional and international standing and prestige will be too costly for Ankara."

Vahedi sees Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, as just following the West, which is leading from behind, Obama-style. Turkey "has apparently read the West's mind and is trying to accept that role on behalf of the West in return for certain concessions." But it won't work - as, for instance, facilitating Turkey's accession to the EU over immense French and German objections.

Not to mention that Ankara "is facing scathing criticism from nationalist figures. They allege that while the rights of Turks are being ignored in Karabakh as well as in the Balkans through the oversight of the Western powers, the government of Turkey has made defending the rights of the Syrian people its first and foremost priority."

Ali Akbar Asadi, from the International Relations Dept at the University of Allameh Tabatabaei, expands on the key event of the next few weeks: the renewed diplomatic relationship between Iran and Egypt - which is drawing Washington's unmitigated wrath; the State Department, in a childish move, is even saying that Iran "does not deserve" to host the summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Tehran, which will be attended by Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi. [8]

Asadi goes to the jugular - the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) petro-monarchies are terrified that "Egypt may renew relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran or even enter into strategic relations with Turkey, thus working to undermine the influence and clout of the GCC in the new balance of regional power."

So the GCC is doing what it usually does; showering a bit of cash. "They want to keep Egypt, as a big and important Arab political player, on their own side."

Besides, they are demanding from Morsi and the MB that "they do not take any step to export their revolution and activate affiliates" of the MB in the GCC. And they "expect Cairo to avoid adopting a new approach to strengthening Hamas against Fatah, helping Gaza and the Palestinian population there, and taking an adamant stance against the Israeli regime."

The GCC policy, supported by the West and Israel, is "to keep Egypt entangled in its domestic challenges" and thus unable to exercise its" historical claim to leadership of the Arab world."

This is just a sample of the level of intellectual discussion going on in Iran. Compared to the bombing hysteria in Tel Aviv and Washington, it does look like it's coming from Mars.

1. An Obama Visit to Israel Could Stall Iran Attack, Bloomberg, August 21.
2. See armscontrol.org/
3. See www.irannuc.ir/
4. See www.irdiplomacy.ir/
5. See www.tabnak.ir/
6. See Russia and the changing world, RIANOVOSTI
7. See www.tehrooz.com
8. US says Iran doesn’t deserve to host summit of Non Aligned Movement, Washington Post, August 21.

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 new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The South gathers in Tehran...

The South gathers in Tehran...
By Vijay Prashad

Tomorrow, perhaps, the future.
- W H Auden

Next week, representatives from 118 of the world's 192 states will gather in Tehran for the 16th Non-Aligned Movement summit.

Created in 1961, the NAM was a crucial platform for the Third World Project (whose history I detail in The Darker Nations). It was formed to purge the majority of the world from the toxic Cold War and from the maldevelopment pushed by the World Bank. After two decades of useful institution-building, the NAM was suffocated by the enforced debt crisis of the 1980s. It has since gasped along.

In the corners of the NAM meetings, delegates mutter about the arrogance of the North, particularly the Zioconned USA, whose track record over the past few decades has been pretty abysmal. Ronald Reagan's dismissal of the problems of the South at the 1981 Cancun Summit on the North-South Dialogue still raises eyebrows, and George W Bush's cowboy sensibility still earns a few chuckles. But apart from these cheap thrills, little of value comes out of the NAM. Until the last decade there have been few attempts to create an ideological and institutional alternative to neoliberalism or to unipolar imperialism.

With the arrival of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) in the past few years, the mood has lifted. The much more assertive presence of the BRICS inside the NAM and in the United Nations has raised hopes that US and European intransigence will no longer determine the destiny of the world. At the 14th NAM summit in Cuba (2006), the world seemed lighter. Hugo Chavez' jokes went down well; Fidel Castro was greeted as a titan. This seemed like the old days, or at least Delhi in 1983.

NAM summits typically go by without fanfare. The Atlantic media rarely notice the movement's presence. But this year, because the summit is to be held in Tehran, eyebrows have been raised.

The US State Department's Victoria Nuland hastened to condemn the location as "a strange place and an inappropriate place for this meeting ... Our point is simply that Tehran, given its number of grave violations of international law and UN obligations, does not seem to be the appropriate place" for the NAM summit.

The US government is particularly chafed that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is making his pilgrimage to the NAM (he has attended every NAM summit since 1961, when Dag Hammarskjold left Belgrade to his death over African skies). Nuland notes that the US has expressed its "concern" to Ban. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was plainer: "Mr Secretary General, your place is not in Tehran."

Bombs over Tehran
Israel has been playing a peculiar game these past few months. Netanyahu and his coterie are the mirror image of the clownish behavior of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: Both have a fulsome sense of themselves, preening before cameras with bluster. Sensational bulletins come from their mouths.

The fear is that Netanyahu is playing chicken with the US. He wants either to bait President Barack Obama to ratchet up the sanctions and fire off one or two missiles, or else to let loose his own hawks, flying twice the distance that they flew to Osirak in 1982 to bomb Bushehr now. Netanyahu's pressure startled his own president, Shimon Peres, who hastened to note, "It is clear that we cannot do this single-handedly and that we must coordinate with America." All this is a game of Chinese whispers, with so little clarity about what anyone is actually saying, and a great deal of anxiety about the exaggerations that have overwhelmed any capacity for mature discussion.

The US seems to want time for the new sanctions regime to take effect. In March, Iranian banks were disconnected from the SWIFT network that enables electronic financial transactions. Pressure on countries that import Iranian oil were stepped up, as the US and the Europeans threatened to take action against those who did not follow their own sanctions regime (which are much harsher than the various UN resolutions that run from 1696, from 2006, to 1929, from 2010).

Iran's central bank has pointed to a deep decline in the share of Iranian exports - and concomitantly, a perilous position for its population. What seems not to be on the radar of those who create these sanctions regimes is that they rarely turn the population against its government. In Iran, it might actually be detrimental to the reform movement. Washington fulminates about autocracy in Iran and the bomb, but it does not realize that for most Iranians (44% of whom live in slums), the core problem is of livelihood and well-being.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will be in Tehran. He will meet with Ahmadinejad, and talk to him about India's attempt to circumvent the sanctions regime. Between 10% and 12% of India's oil needs are furnished by Iran. There has been an attempt to switch to the Saudi supply, but this is much easier to talk about than to do. The problem for India and Iran has been over payments, since India cannot pay Iran for the oil. Iran has therefore agreed to accept 45% of its oil receipts in rupees, within India, and to use this money to buy Indian goods to import into Iran. Delegations from the business sector have gone back and forth to find things to sell the Iranians. But problems persist: The sanctions regime has made it nearly impossible for Indian tankers to get insurance for their journey to Iran. Nonetheless, the Indian business lobby estimates that bilateral trade between the two countries will rise from US$13.5 billion to $30 billion by 2015.

The tete-a-tete between Manmohan Singh and Ahmadinejad will also touch on the Indian investments at the Chabahar port in southeastern Iran, which has been used to bring Indian goods into Iran and to bring 100,000 tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan. India and Iran have invested heavily in Afghanistan, and both have a common interest in making sure that the Taliban do not return to power in Kabul.

Here one would imagine that the US might see eye-to-eye with these old allies, but Washington's obsessive blinkers make it impossible for its officials to be proper diplomats. It has been a long-standing US aim to break the link between India and Iran, two stalwarts in the NAM.

Next week, New Delhi and Tehran will reinforce their fragile ties. Manmohan Singh will not make any grand gesture. This is not his temperament. Nonetheless, economic realities and the accidents of geography make the relationship necessary. This is unfathomable to Washington.

Blood of Syria
The last time the NAM suffered a major political split was when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979. The bulk of the members wanted to condemn the invasion, while a few of the more influential (Algeria, India, Iraq) refused to go along. It damaged the NAM's credibility. This year, it is Syria that poses the dilemma.

In May, at Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, within sight of Hosni Mubarak's hospital incarceration, the NAM coordinating bureau's ministerial meeting tried to put together a resolution on Syria. The Saudis and Qataris wanted a strong condemnation of the regime, but the Syrians, who remain NAM members, took exception to the draft. The final document was anodyne, calling for the success of former UN secretary general Kofi Annan's Six Point Plan.

Annan has quit. In his place has come the seasoned Algerian diplomat and UN bureaucrat Lakhdar Brahimi, who is no stranger to the NAM circuit. Brahimi knows a lot about conflict, having recently been the UN's man in Afghanistan and Iraq, and having been the broker to the Taif Agreement (1989) that suspended the Lebanese Civil War.

Brahimi's role will be difficult. Cynicism tears at Syria's future. Most discussion on Syria comes at it from its geopolitics: What will be the impact of the fall of Bashar al-Assad's regime for US power or Gulf Arab power in the region? Will this have a detrimental impact on Hezbollah, on the Palestinians, on the Iranians? These are valuable questions, but they obscure the much more basic class question posed by the uprising in Syria: What is best for the Syrian people?

There is little argument that Assad's regime governs with one hand clothed in the military's iron and the other morphed into a credit card for the kleptocratic neoliberal elite. There is also little argument that the Assad regime's brutality toward its population has a long history, most notably during the first 11 months of the 2011 uprising when the people in their coordination committees chanted silmiyyeh, silmiyyeh (peaceful, peaceful) as Assad's tanks roared into their midst.

The correct handling of the contradictions should lead one to full support for the freedom of the Syrian people, which has come to mean two things: the end of the Assad regime and the retraction of the hand of the US, the Gulf Arabs and the Russians. But Brahimi will not be able to move an agenda as long as the Syrian people's needs are not at the center of things.

It is also why the NAM will not be able to act effectively vis-a-vis Syria. One NAM delegation to Moscow and another to Riyadh-Doha asking for a suspension of weaponry and a cooling down of the rhetoric would have a marked impact on Assad and his beleaguered circle. This is not in the cards.

Leadership has now fallen on Egypt's new president, Mohamed Morsi. At the Organization of Islamic Cooperation meeting in Mecca this month, its 57 states expelled Syria. This followed a resolution put forward by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Only Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi cautioned the group not to act in haste. He tried to take shelter in Assad's pronouncements about elections and reforms, none of this meaningful any longer. Salehi and the Iranians are plainly worried about the dynamic of history shifting to the advantage of the Gulf Arabs. This has colored their view of the Syrian conflict.

Egypt built a small bridge to Tehran at the OIC meeting. Morsi proposed the creation of a Contact Group, which would include Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. This was welcomed by all sides. A few days later at a ministerial meeting in Jeddah, Salehi met with Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Amr to draw out the implications of this Contact Group. Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Rahim Mehmanparast said the Contact Group would be a mechanism to "review and follow up on [regional] issues so that peace would be established in the region". Nothing concrete has been achieved so far, but all indications are that Egypt will use the NAM process to find a way between the hard lines on both sides.

Egypt and Iran broke their ties after the 1979 Islamic Republic was formed. But after the ouster of Mubarak, small gestures brought the countries into communication. The Egyptians allowed an Iranian frigate to go through the Suez Canal (the first since 1978). Iran welcomed the Arab Spring in North Africa as an "Islamic Awakening", and hoped for a rapprochement with the new Muslim Brotherhood politicians of the region.

The Qataris and Saudis also had such hopes, and these are antagonistic to Iran. Emir Hamad bin Khalifa of Qatar met with Morsi for dinner last week, where the Qataris pledged $2 billion in assistance to Egypt (a rumor floated around that the Qataris wanted to lease the Suez Canal, perhaps to prevent passage to those Iranian frigates).

Morsi had welcomed Iranian Vice-President Hamed Baqai a few weeks before the Qatari visit, accepting the invitation to come to Tehran for the NAM meeting and hand over the chair from Egypt to Iran in person. At the OIC meeting, Morsi and Ahmadinejad were seen to speak for a considerable period. It is likely that Morsi would like to fashion himself as the non-aligned voice between Iran and the Gulf Arabs, and to provide Brahimi with the kind of policy space he will require.

Morsi has a complex itinerary. He will go to Tehran via Beijing. Between a conclave with Hu Jintao and then later with Manmohan Singh, between discussions with the Gulf Arabs and the Iranians, Morsi's gestures suggest an affinity with the kind of multipolar foreign policy developed by the BRICS countries.

The tea leaves are hard to read. The top issues on the NAM agenda are Iran and Syria. One is about a war that Israel itches to start, and the other is about a war that the Assad regime is conducting against the Syrian people. The very fact that the NAM summit is taking place in Tehran shows that there remains support for Iran against any precipitous action. If Morsi's Contact Group can be pressured within the NAM to take a strong class position on Syria and not hide behind the cynicism of geopolitics, then this will be seen as a historic summit.

Vijay Prashad's new book, Arab Spring, Libyan Winter, is published by AK Press.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Extreme weakness and even degeneracy of the Zioconned Western World....

Extreme weakness and even degeneracy of the Zioconned Western World....While Russia's prevailing ideological consensus is: sovereignism and anti-capitalism, i.e. "national sovereignty and social justice"...

I thought I had seen in all, from the 100 year ban on homo parades in Moscow to the Pussy Riot circus, but it appears that a new front has opened in the West's "Free Sex and Blasphemy" crusade against Russia.

Under the title Madonna Sued in Russia for Supporting Gays the very serious Wall Street Journal reports the following:
MOSCOW—Some Russian activists have sued Madonna for millions of dollars, claiming they were offended by her support for gay rights during a recent concert in St. Petersburg. Antigay sentiment is strong in Russia. In St. Petersburg, a law passed in February makes it illegal to promote homosexuality to minors, and the author of that law has pointed to the presence of children as young as 12 at Madonna's concert on Aug. 9. Russian news agencies quote Alexander Pochuyev, a lawyer representing the nine activists, as saying the suit was filed Friday against Madonna, the organizer of her concert, and the hall where it was held, asking for damages totaling 333 million rubles, or nearly $10.5 million.

Responding to criticism that the plaintiffs were stuck in the Middle Ages, the lawyer said they were using civilized, modern methods to defend their rights. "No one is burning anyone at the stake or carrying out an Inquisition," Mr. Pochuyev was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying. "Modern civilization requires tolerance and respect for different values."

The complaint includes a video taken at the concert showing Madonna stomping on an Orthodox cross and asking fans to raise their hands to show the pink armbands in support of gays and lesbians that were distributed among the audience, the new agency reported.

Madonna also has angered conservative Russians with her support for Pussy Riot. Three members of the punk band were sentenced Friday to two years in prison for a protest inside Moscow's main cathedral against Vladimir Putin and his cozy ties to the Russian Orthodox Church.

Madonna spoke out in support of the group during her concert in St. Petersburg and two days earlier in Moscow. After the verdict was issued, Madonna called on "all those who love freedom to condemn this unjust punishment."
The new thing this time is that rather than the Russian government taking action, a group of private individuals decided to act and, to make things even more interesting, they are using the Russian courts to get to Madonna were it hurts: money.

This is really very new. The idea of suing somebody for money is totally alien to the Russian culture, nevermind asking for 333-million-ruble ($10.3 million) in damages! (It sure looks like the Russians are slowly learning some very Western, I would even say "American", tactics).

It thus appears that we are having somewhat of a major struggle under way here: On one hand, the West is dead set in getting Russia to comply with its views on sex and, what one could call, the "right to blasphemy". In return, the Russians are equally determined to prevent the West's moral "навозная жижа" (manure slurry) from replacing traditional Russian cultural and religious norms. Characteristically, both sides claim to stand up for fundamental civil rights and against obscurantism. Homos versus babushkas - who would have thought? And yet, this is only the tip of a much bigger iceberg.

First, there was the "Russia - butcher of Chechen freedom fighters". Then, Russia became the "poisoner of opponents" (Yushchenko, Litvinenko) and "killer of journalists" (Politkovskaya, Khlebnikov). Then we had "Russia - the aggressor of democratic Georgia", and now the evil patron of Gaddafi and Assad in the UN Security Council, the organizer of stolen elections, oppressor of the democratic opposition and suppressor of sexual freedoms. Interestingly, this constant stream of accusations has created somewhat of a backlash in Russia where the words "our geostrategic friends" has now become a funny euphemism for "our sworn enemies" and the West's hypocrisy towards Russia turned into the topic of humorous demotivators like these two:

This first one shows the Russian spy Anna Kushchenko (aka Anna Chapman) and the universally despised "democratic" opposition leader Valeria Novodvorskaia with the following caption: their secret agents only look good in Hollywood movies.

The second one show a graph of Russian US Treasury holdings with the caption: and this is when the USA understood that Putin was stealing elections in Russia.

The fact is that the West's negative attitudes towards Russia are not so much seen as a threat, but much more so as a joke.

It is not surprising at all that the various propaganda campaigns I mentioned above go little to no traction with the Russian public opinion (according to independent polls, the Pussy Riot sentence was approved by the strong majority of Russians). And yet, the West is fundamentally mis-reading Russia (again).

A lot was said about "the Church" in Russia and its role in the Pussy Riot issue, and yet I would argue that the influence of the religion in general or the Moscow Patriarchate in particular is grossly over-estimated by the media.

Religious feelings are complex and hard to measure, but being myself an Orthodox Christian I would argue that the very minimal condition to consider oneself an Orthodox Christian would be to at least attend the Paskhal ("Easter") service since Pashkha ("Easter") is, by far, the biggest and most important religious feast/celebration in the Orthodox Christian calendar. In Moscow, the city police keep a careful statistic of the amount of people who actually attend this unique religious service celebrated at midnight. For years the figure of actual attendees have been very stable: roughly 1% of the population of Moscow! In other words, 99% of Moscovites are not even religious enough to attend the most important Orthodox service of the year. Not very impressive, don't you think?

While it is possible that in some Russian cities with a special religious history (Suzdal, Sergiyev Posad, Sarov, etc.) this figure might be somewhat bigger, I am quite confident that the figure for Moscow is higher than in most of the rural or even urban areas of Russia. The reality is that true deep spirituality is only a reality is a very small percentage of the Russian population.

Nationalist feelings in Russia are far more prevalent, but I am quite sure that they are mostly rather moderate and not as prevalent as some people claim. I have no statistic to prove this, but I will say that I personally know the Russian nationalist circles very, very well, and that I am absolutely certain that they are not a majority phenomenon, at least not yet.

The interesting thing, however, is that a full decade of unconditional support by the West for the Jewish-democratic oligarchy under Eltsin followed by a never-ending and completely hypocritical anti-Russian propaganda campaign by the West since Putin got to power has had a deep effect in Russia - the one of greatly fostering national and, to a certain degree, even religious feelings of affiliation even amongst those who otherwise might not have felt them at all.

Again, setting aside all this absolute baloney about the "Kremlin controlled media" or "stolen elections", there is a reason why pro-Western political parties simply cannot make it into the Duma (nevermind the Kremlin) just as there is a reason why the Putin/Medvedev regime, for all its very real faults, is still so popular: the vast majority of Russians want to "push the West out of Russia" and this feeling plays a much stronger role in the anti-Pussy-Riot sentiment then religion or nationalism even though the latter are gradually becoming involved in this dynamic as identity symbols.

This reminds me of the two Chechen wars which saw numerous instances of Russian soldiers replying "Khristos Voskrese!" ("Christ is Risen!" - a traditional Paskhal greeting) to the Chechen "Allahu Akbar!" (God is greater) even though the vast majority of these soldiers had little or no religious education to begin with (probably true of most Chechens too). To put it differently, the more the likes of Madonna will trample upon Orthodox crosses, the more people in Russia will feel that the Cross is something important, if not sacred, to them.

Nikolai Starikov
I was recently watching a video of a lecture by Nikolai Starikov, one of the most influential young Russian intellectuals, who when he was asked what kind of ideology Russia could oppose to the Western one simply answered "national sovereignty and social justice". Even though most Western Russia "specialists" fail to see the nuance, this is, in reality, a very far cry from any religious or nationalistic resurgence.

This has been main effect of the long Western ideological propaganda war against Russia: to create this sovereignist and anti-capitalist reaction.

Yet, even though they are very far from being religious obscurantists or rabid nationalists, people like Starikov absolutely despise Wahabi terrorists or the folks who supported them against their own people ("human rights activists" like Sergei Kovalev or pro-Western opposition figures like Novodvorskaia), they feel a deep sense of disgust for the homo-lobby or the "Rioting Vaginas" (as Starikov calls Pussy Riot), and they deeply and profoundly reject the Western model of a uni-polar (i.e., imperial) New World Order dominated by an ideology of exploitation, greed, profit and violence (which is, sadly, all that the West stands for today).

This sovereignist and anti-capitalist movement is not uniform and is therefore not centered around, or lead by, any one single party or individual. It is, however, well-represented in most Russian political movements and parties (with the logical exception of US controlled puppets like Iabloko or Golos): Putin's United Russia, of course, but also Zyuganov's Communist Party, Zhirinovsky's LDPR and even Mironov's Just Russia. I would also argue that a majority of the opposition to Putin is strongly influenced by such sentiments (Udaltsov's Left Front, Limonov's National-Bolshevik Party - what a name! - or Egor Kholmogorov Russian Nationalists).

What this movement also has in common is a great sense of confidence that Russian can, and will, prevail over the West in any new Cold War: they feel that the US-run international capitalist system is a collapsing pyramid scheme, that the US military is really unable to actually win a real war, that the EU is paralyzed by a massive social and economic crisis and that basically the future is behind Russia and the other BRICS countries.

Of course, the West still has a great deal of military and economic power and these sovereignists cum anti-capitalists are not seeking to openly confront the West, nor have they any desire to compete globally against the US Empire and its 700+ major military bases worldwide. Instead, they are quite content to openly defy the West on their own home turf - inside Russia - and gradually built up the Russian society around the dual goals of sovereignty and social-justice (and God knows that a lot of work still needs to be done in these two realms!).

Alain Soral
This is not unique to Russia. In France, for example, there is a most interesting movement gradually coalescing around the author Alain Soral who has created an organization called "Equality and Reconciliation" (E&R) which centers around the slogan: "The Left of Labor and the Right of values", something very similar to what is taking place in Russia, I think.

E&R is uniquely French, just as Starikov's movement is uniquely Russian, but they share some very fundamental values and beliefs beginning by a total and comprehensive rejection of the current Western ideological model of globalism and capitalism.

This makes me wonder in how many other countries besides Russia and France the same process is taking place?

It is very hard to predict where this movement is going in Russia. Personally, I think of it much more as some kind of "Petri dish" or "ideologically fertile ground" than as a finished, defined, product. Sovereignty and anti-capitalism are definitely good values, but they are also very hollow or shallow, they lack any kind of ideological or, even less so, spiritual depth. These feelings, this movement, currently lacks shape and it could evolve in many very different world-views, movements or policies.

Dmitri Rogozin
I will conclude this sketch by saying that while the Putin/Medvedev tandem currently clearly greatly benefits from this "sovereignist and anti-capitalist" movement, the leaders of this movement have absolutely no loyalty to the current regime. Yes, at this point in time, most sovereignists/anti-capitalists are supporting Putin/Medvedev because they see no alternative to them, but they are also very busy creating their own political parties. And, in some topics, such as the entry of Russia into the WTO, the sovereignists/anti-capitalism are in an open and very vocal opposition to the Kremlin.

Even more interestingly, and in stark contrast to the situation in France, there are very influential people already inside the Russian government, such as Dmitri Rogozin, who are ideological far closer to a Starikov than to Putin or Medvedev. Putin and Medvedev understand that, and they are willing to work with them, but they are quite aware of the fact that Rogozin has a support base very distinct from their own.

The current Western "Free Sex and Blasphemy" crusade against Russia, far from intimidating or embarrassing anybody, is actually perceived as a sign of the extreme weakness and even degeneracy of the West. Even the apparent (?) US determination to deploy an anti-missile system against Russia is primarily perceived as a huge waste of money, an act of ideological stupidity which can be rather easily countered, not as some kind of fear-inspiring threat.

In the meantime, some folks in Saint Petersburg will have a good time trying to sue Madonna for "propaganda of homosexuality" before turning to the far more serious business of sovereignization and social justice.

And the BBC, CNN & Co. will never notice a thing :-)

The Saker