18:07.2018 – 23:00
following some unagitated geopolitical observations on the Helsinki Summit by Pepe Escobar.
A walk on the wild side as Trump meets Putin at Finland station
US President stirs up a hornet’s nest with his press conference alongside his Russian counterpart, but it seems that no ‚grand bargain‘ was struck on Syria, and on Iran they appear to strongly disagree
By Pepe Escobar July 17, 2018 2:29 PM (UTC+8)
“The Cold War is a thing of the past.” By the time President Putin said as much during preliminary remarks at his joint press conference with President Trump in Helsinki, it was clear this would not stand. Not after so much investment by American conservatives in Cold War 2.0.
Russophobia is a 24/7 industry, and all concerned, including its media vassals, remain absolutely livid with the “disgraceful” Trump-Putin presser. Trump has “colluded with Russia.” How could the President of the United States promote “moral equivalence” with a “world-class thug”?
Multiple opportunities for apoplectic outrage were in order.
Trump: “Our relationship has never been worse than it is now. However, that changed. As of about four hours ago.”
Putin: “The United States could be more decisive in nudging Ukrainian leadership.”
Trump: “There was no collusion… I beat Hillary Clinton easily.”
Putin: “We should be guided by facts. Can you name a single fact that would definitively prove collusion? This is nonsense.”
Then, the clincher: the Russian president calls [Special Counsel] Robert Mueller’s ‘bluff’, offering to interrogate the Russians indicted for alleged election meddling in the US if Mueller makes an official request to Moscow. But in exchange, Russia would expect the US to question Americans on whether Moscow should face charges for illegal actions.
Trump hits it out of the park when asked whether he believes US intelligence, which concluded that Russia did meddle in the election, or Putin, who strongly denies it.
“President Putin says it’s not Russia. I don’t see any reason why it would be.”
As if this was not enough, Trump doubles down invoking the Democratic National Committee (DNC) server. “I really do want to see the server. Where is the server? I want to know. Where is the server and what is the server saying?”
It was inevitable that a strategically crucial summit between the Russian and American presidencies would be hijacked by the dementia of the US news cycle.
Trump was unfazed. He knows that the DNC computer hard-drives – the source of an alleged “hacking” – simply “disappeared” while in the custody of US intel, FBI included. He knows the bandwidth necessary for file transfer was much larger than a hack might have managed in the time allowed. It was a leak, a download into a flash-drive.
Additionally, Putin knows that Mueller knows he will never be able to drag 12 Russian intelligence agents into a US courtroom. So the – debunked – indictment, announced only three days before Helsinki, was nothing more than a pre-emptive, judicial hand grenade.
No wonder John Brennan, a former CIA director under the Obama administration, is fuming. “Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to exceed the threshold of ‘high crimes and misdemeanors.’ It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin.”
How Syria and Ukraine are linked
However, there are reasons to expect at least minimal progress on three fronts in Helsinki: a solution for the Syria tragedy, an effort to limit nuclear weapons and save the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty signed in 1987 by Reagan and Gorbachev, and a positive drive to normalize US-Russia relations, away from Cold War 2.0.
Trump knew he had nothing to offer Putin to negotiate on Syria. The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) now controls virtually 90% of national territory. Russia is firmly established in the Eastern Mediterranean, especially after signing a 49-year agreement with Damascus.
Even considering careful mentions of Israel on both sides, Putin certainly did not agree to force Iran out of Syria.
No “grand bargain” on Iran seems to be in the cards. The top adviser to Ayatollah Khamenei, Ali Akbar Velayati, was in Moscow last week. The Moscow-Tehran entente cordiale seems unbreakable. In parallel, as Asia Times has learned, Bashar al-Assad has told Moscow he might even agree to Iran leaving Syria, but Israel would have to return the occupied Golan Heights. So, the status quo remains.
Putin did mention both presidents discussed the Iran nuclear deal or Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action and essentially they, strongly, agree to disagree. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have written a letter formally rejecting an appeal for carve-outs in finance, energy and healthcare by Germany, France and the UK. A maximum economic blockade remains the name of the game. Putin may have impressed on Trump the possible dire consequences of a US oil embargo on Iran, and even the (far-fetched) scenario of Tehran blocking the Strait of Hormuz.
Judging by what both presidents said, and what has been leaked so far, Trump may not have offered an explicit US recognition of Crimea for Russia, or an easing of Ukraine-linked sanctions.
It’s reasonable to picture a very delicate ballet in terms of what they really discussed in relation to Ukraine. Once again, the only thing Trump could offer on Ukraine is an easing of sanctions. But for Russia the stakes are much higher.
Putin clearly sees Southwest Asia and Central and Eastern Europe as totally integrated. The Black Sea basin is where Russia intersects with Ukraine, Turkey, Eastern Europe and the Caucasus. Or, historically, where the former Russian, Ottoman and Habsburg empires converged.
A Greater Black Sea implies the geopolitical convergence of what’s happening in both Syria and Ukraine. That’s why for the Kremlin only an overall package matters. It’s not by accident that Washington identified these two nodes – destabilizing Damascus and turning the tables in Kiev – to cause problems for Moscow.
Putin sees a stable Syria and a stable Ukraine as essential to ease his burden in dealing with the Balkans and the Baltics. We’re back once again to that classic geopolitical staple, the Intermarium (“between the seas”). That’s the ultra-contested rimland from Estonia in the north to Bulgaria in the south – and to the Caucasus in the east. Once, that used to frame the clash between Germany and Russia. Now, that frames the clash between the US and Russia.
In a fascinating echo of the summit in Helsinki, Western strategists do lose their sleep gaming on Russia being able to “Finlandize” this whole rimland.
And that brings us, inevitably, to what could be termed The German Question. What is Putin’s ultimate goal: a quite close business and strategic relationship with Germany (German business is in favor)? Or some sort of entente cordiale with the US? EU diplomats in Brussels are openly discussing that underneath all the thunder and lightning, this is the holy of the holies.
Take a walk on the wild side
The now notorious key takeaway from a Trump interview at his golf club in Turnberry, Scotland, before Helsinki, may offer some clues.
“Well, I think we have a lot of foes. I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade. Now, you wouldn’t think of the European Union, but they’re a foe. Russia is a foe in certain respects. China is a foe economically, certainly they are a foe. But that doesn’t mean they are bad. It doesn’t mean anything. It means that they are competitive.”
Putin certainly knows it. But even Trump, while not being a Clausewitzian strategist, may have had an intuition that the post-WWII liberal order, built by a hegemonic US and bent on permanent US military hegemony over the Eurasian landmass while subduing a vassal Europe, is waning.
While Trump firebombs this United States of Europe as an “unfair” competitor of the US, it’s essential to remember that it was the White House that asked for the Helsinki summit, not the Kremlin.
Trump treats the EU with undisguised disdain. He would love nothing better than for the EU to dissolve. His Arab “partners” can be easily controlled by fear. He has all but declared economic war on China and is on tariff overdrive – even as the IMF warns that the global economy runs the risk of losing around $500 billion in the process. And he faces the ultimate intractable, the China-Russia-Iran axis of Eurasian integration, which simply won’t go away.
So, talking to “world-class thug” Putin – in usual suspect terminology – is a must. A divide-and-rule here, a deal there – who knows what some hustling will bring? To paraphrase Lou Reed, New Trump City “is the place where they say “Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side.”
During the Helsinki presser, Putin, fresh from Russia’s spectacular World Cup soft power PR coup, passed a football to Trump. The US president said he would give it to his son, Barron, and passed the ball to First Lady Melania. Well, the ball is now in Melania’s court.
on Russia’s predominant position in Syria & Iraqi Kurdistan places Moscow right in the middle of the misleadingly characterized “Shiite Crescent” and allows the Kremlin to “balance” Iranian influence in the Mideast better than any other country ever possibly could. It’s impossible to ignore the geopolitical reality that the “progressive” faction […]
Documented some tweets, written by US Sen (Democrats) following John Bolton’s appointment as national security adviser
John Bolton supports proactively bombing Iran and conducting a first strike on North Korea without provocation. Appointing him to be Nat Sec Advisor is a grave danger to the American people and a clear message from @realDonaldTrump that he is gearing up for military conflict.
“With the appointments of Mike Pompeo and John Bolton, @realDonaldTrump is successfully lining up his war cabinet. Bolton played a key role in politicizing the intel that misled us into the Iraq War. We cannot let this extreme war hawk blunder us into another terrible conflict,” he tweeted.
“John Bolton supports proactively bombing Iran & striking North Korea with nuclear weapons first without provocation. Appointing him to be Nat Sec Advisor is a grave danger to the American people & a clear message from @realDonaldTrump that he is gearing up for military conflict,” Senator Markey added.
Wanted war w Cuba, arguing wrongly that Cuba had WMD
Wanted war w Iraq, arguing – wrong again – that Iraq had WMD
Believes – wrongly – that Islamic law is taking over America
If you’re always wrong on security, you’re the wrong person to be National Security Advisor
The choice of Bolton as the national security adviser has also been questioned by Senator Jeff Merkley from Oregon, who has pointed out many flaws with the new appointee’s policies. “If you’re always wrong on security, you’re the wrong person to be National Security Advisor,” Merkley tweeted.
This is dangerous news for the country and the world. John Bolton was easily one of the most extreme, pro-war members of the Bush Administration.
Imagine what havoc he could wreak whispering in Donald Trump’s ear…I hear the drumbeats of war. https://twitter.com/nytimes/status/976954424483631104 …
11:56 PM – Mar 22, 2018 Rep. Barbara Jean Lee of California’s 13th congressional district was also disappointed by Trump’s choice, claiming she is hearing the “drumbeats of war.”
The President is surrounding himself with combative lawyers. He’s replacing Tillerson and McMaster with Pompeo and Bolton.
It’s almost like the President is preparing to go to war in the legal and foreign relations sense…
Fears expressed by some Capitol Hill members and the public seem justified. The notoriously hawkish former United Nations ambassador was a chief architect of the George W. Bush administration’s justification for the war in Iraq in 2003, that was based on false accusations that Baghdad possessed weapons of mass destruction.
This is one of the most dangerous developments I’ve seen in our foreign and nat’l security policy. Period. #Bolton #McMaster . https://twitter.com/amy_siskind/status/976949689500291072 …
Trump’s choice of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director Mike Pompeo as the new secretary of state also made many in Washington uneasy. Unlike his predecessor, Rex Tillerson, Pompeo seems better aligned with Trump’s confrontational foreign policy, namely on the Iran nuclear deal, on North Korea, and on the shift of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Besides politicians, the American public also expressed concern about the feasibility of a looming armed conflict.
John Bolton was part of the effort to mislead the US into the disastrous Iraq war and has supported military action against North Korea and Iran. He was too extreme to be confirmed as UN ambassador in 2005 and is absolutely the wrong person to be national security advisor now.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders called Bolton “absolutely the wrong person to be national security advisor now,” recalling how he deceived the public about the Iraq war.
“John Bolton was part of the effort to mislead the US into the disastrous Iraq war and has supported military action against North Korea and Iran. He was too extreme to be confirmed as UN ambassador in 2005 and is absolutely the wrong person to be national security advisor now,” Sanders tweeted.
“John Bolton is a dangerous radical. President Trump’s decision to make Bolton his National Security Advisor is deeply disturbing,” Congressman Brendan F. Boyle (PA-13) said in a written statement. “John Bolton has spent his entire career pushing fringe conspiracy theories, espousing radical ideas about multilateralism, and undermining key alliances across the world.”
Guten Abend an die Listen,
die jüngsten Entwicklungen im Iran um den Jahreswechsel herum haben nicht nur in scheinbar spontanen Tweets westlicher Staatsmänner ihren Niederschlag gefunden, sondern auch die beiden deutschen Fernsehanstalten waren sich unisono einig, dass sich ein neuerlicher Umsturz dort anbahne. Einig schienen sich die meisten Medien auch darin zu sein, dass sich der Zorn der Massen gegen das verhasste Mullahregime, fehlende Demokratie und vor allem gegen steigende Preise und zunehmende Arbeitslosigkeit vor allem unter Jugendlichen richte. Ein Regime Change sei daher notwendig und stehe unmittelbar bevor.
Keine Erwähnung dagegen finden die erheblichen Auswirkungen zurückliegender Wirtschaftssanktionen, die teilweise auch nach dem Abschluss des Atomabkommens immer noch aufrechterhalten werden. Der Iran hatte das Abkommen vor zwei Jahren mit den USA, Russland, China, Frankreich, Großbritannien und Deutschland in Wien geschlossen und keine seriöse Nachrichtenquelle bezweifelt bislang, dass das Land sich an die beschlossenen Auflagen halte.
Im Folgenden soll eine Auswahl von Texten dokumentiert werden, die dieses einseitige Bild von den Demonstrationen in einigen Städten des Iran noch aus anderen Perspektiven betrachten:
04.01.2018 — https://deutsch.rt.com/meinung/63101-was-ist-los-in-iran/
1) Was ist los im Iran? Die Hintergründe der Proteste und die westlichen Narrative (I)
Von Rainer RUPP
Die USA, Israel und die Saudis machen sich Sorgen um Demokratie und Menschenrechte im Iran. Deutsche Staatsmedien leisten Schützenhilfe. Obwohl ein Umsturz im Iran unwahrscheinlich ist, scheinen die Ereignisse Teil eines größeren Plans gegen Teheran zu sein. (…)
2)Yavuz ÖSOGUSWas ist los im Iran, was in Israel
Werner Beyer schrieb auf FB: „Es ist doch immer wieder interessant sich auch mal die andere Seite anzuhören. Jenseits des medialen Einheitsbreis betreiben die Brüder Yavuz Özoguz,und Gürhan Özoguz das Portal Muslimmarkt, bei dem ich auch immer wieder mal vorbeischaue und interessante Beiträge entdecke. Bevor mir jemand Einseitigkeit oder gar Verblendung vorwirft: (…)“
3) Communiqué des ZKs der Tudeh Partei (KP) Iran:
Der Kampf des iranischen Volkes, das die Nase von Gewalt, Unterdrückung, Teuerung und Despotie voll hat, ist real. Dieser Kampf darf nicht zugunsten der Interessen der reaktionären Kräfte im In- und Ausland verein
Veröffentlicht: – Jan 02, 2018
Die politisch-ökonomische Krise der bankrotten Regierung der Welajate-Faghih (religiöse Obrigkeit) im Iran nimmt täglich größere Ausmaße an. Die Auswirkung dieser Krise kann bei den internen Auseinandersetzungen der Regierenden und infolge dessen in den beispiellosen Enthüllungen der Machtzentren gegeneinander beobachtet werden. (…)
TUDEH-INFO – NR. 101- 01. Januar 2018 in PDF
4) Pedram SHAYAR Der Aufstand der Hungrigen
Veröffentlicht am 3. Januar 2018 von Pedram Shahyar
Iran: Aufstand der Hungrigen
Seit einer Woche demonstrieren bei Dunkelheit Menschen im Iran auf den Straßen. Der Staat und Eliten sind gespalten und verunsichert, die geopolitischen Gegner in Washington, Tel Aviv und Riad feiern eine Party. Es sind noch nicht die großen Massen, die in der Dunkelheit Parolen rufen. Doch diese Protestbewegung ist eine große Herausforderung für den iranischen Staat: Anders als die grüne Bewegung 2009 sind die spontanen Protesten sehr radikal und fordern das Ende der politischen Herrschaft des islamischen Klerus. (…)
Allen unseren Mitlesern noch ein gutes und friedliches 2018!
ciao Stephan Best
Aus Outlook Mobile gesendet
Ergänzend sei auch noch besonders auf das folgende Interview von Ken Jebsen mit Petra Wild vom 5.01.2018 hingewiesen:
KenFM am Telefon: Petra Wild zu den Massendemonstrationen im Iran
Dieser Artikel ist auch als kostenlose MP3 für Dich verfügbar!
Der Iran ist der drittgrösste Erdöl-Förderstaat der OPEC und war zwischen 1953 und 1979 der Lieblingspartner des Westens.
Mehr als 30 Jahre verkaufte das Land Öl und Gas zu günstigsten Konditionen und wurde im Gegenzug vor allem von den USA mit sündhaft teueren Waffen hochgerüstet. Freie Presse oder ein demokratisches System existierte im Iran zu dieser Zeit nicht. Stattdessen regierte bis 1979 der Schah von Persien mittels Geheimpolizei Savak.
Die Folterkeller des Landes waren über Jahrzehnte rappelvoll, aber das störte in der westlichen Wertegemeinschaft niemanden, solange der Diktator seine Lieferdeals einhielt und die Region stabil blieb.
Als es 1979 zur Revolution kam und das Land vom schiitischen Geistlichen Ajatollah Chomeini übernommen wurde, fiel der Iran in Ungnade. Seither gilt er als Teil der Achse des Bösen und wird politisch isoliert und sanktioniert. Die Mangelwirtschaft soll das Land von innen zerrütten und das Volk gegen die Regierung aufbrigen. Immer wieder kommt es deshalb zu Unruhen, die in der West-Presse als Befreiungsschlag verkauft werden, was sie nicht sind.
Das persische Volk möchte innerstaatliche Reformen, aber misstraut jeglicher Hilfe aus dem Ausland, mit der es in der Vergangenheit keine guten Erfahrungen gemacht hat. Wie soll man die aktuellen Unruhen, bei denen rund 20 Personen umgekommen sind, geopolitisch bewerten? Ist die Regierung Rohani tatsächlich angezählt oder deutet hier der Westen eine Entwicklung um, um vor ganz anderen Problemen in der Region abzulenken, die den Iran zwar betreffen, aber weit über ihn hinausgehen?
Die Lage ist komplex. Islamwissenschaftlerin Petra Wild bringt im Gespräch mit KenFM Licht ins Dunkel. Sie bewertet nicht. Sie analysiert.
Why there won’t be a revolution in Iran
Regime change is unlikely but what is in play is setting the scene for a further renewal of economic sanctions
By Pepe Escobar January 3, 2018 5:01 PM
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani did the right thing going on television and at least acknowledging popular anger over hard economic times. Inflation is high at 12% but down from 40% at the start of Rouhani’s first term. And the recent increase in fuel and food prices by up to 40% has hardly helped.
That was part of Team Rouhani’s 2018 budget, which cuts subsidies for the poor – a key feature of the previous Ahmadinejad administration.
Then there is youth unemployment, which hovers around the 30% mark. Similar figures recently came out of Spain, a member of the European Union. Of course, that explains why the bulk of the protesters are under 25 from working class backgrounds.
What Rouhani should have explained to Iranians in detail is the direct consequences of hard economic times and United States sanctions, which are affecting the country.
These were coupled with financial threats against western firms now back in business, or at least contemplating opening up operations, in Iran.
Rouhani did promise after signing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran nuclear deal, in the Austrian capital of Vienna in 2015 that it would lead to more jobs and stimulate the economy.
While that has not been the case, legitimate protests singling out economic problems have never gone away. In fact, they have been part of the Iranian picture for decades.
If we consider the Islamic Republic experiment, a sort of “theocracy with democratic characteristics,” the most striking element is how deeply rooted it is in the country.
I learned this during my many trips to Iran and it has a great deal to do with the basij, or voluntary militias. They have permeated all aspects of social life from unions to student bodies and civil servant groups.
In this respect, there is a strong similarity to China, where the Communist Party is embedded in the very fabric of society.
Talking to young people in places such as Kashan or Mashhad showed me how solid the popular base was behind the Islamic Republic experiment. It was certainly more thought-provoking than listening to ayatollahs in Qom.
Still, what is happening now in Iran is that legitimate protests related to economic hardships have been hijacked by the usual suspects in a move to influence the minority. After all, Rouhani’s administration is comparatively liberal compared to the populist Ahmadinejad government.
So, what we have is a concerted attempt to turn legitimate protests into a “revolutionary” movement with the aim of bringing about a regime change. In all practical purposes, this would be civil war.
Well, it will simply not work. Anyone familiar with Iran knows the country’s civil society is far too sophisticated to fall into such a crude and obvious trap.
For a clear take on the foreign influence angle, you should watch Professor Mohammad Marandi, of the University of Tehran, an academic of absolute integrity, arguing with a former BBC employee on the Qatari-owned Al Jazeera television network.
Indeed, what is certain is that foreign elements are acting as provocateurs to influence the protests. This “whole world is watching” tone is meant to intimidate Tehran’s response.
Yet there has to be a crackdown against the violence as Rouhani strongly hinted. Imagine the police response if the level of violence seen on Iranian streets was happening in France or Germany?
Regime change is unlikely but what is in play is setting the scene for a further renewal of economic sanctions against Iran. Possibly, in this case by the EU. Hopefully, it will not fall into this trap.
Anyway, Tehran is already gearing up to increase business across Eurasia through China’s new Silk Roads, the Belt and Road Initiative, and the Eurasia Economic Union.
In the end, it is up to Team Rouhani to be creative in alleviating the burden on the economic front.
|What Is Happening in Iran? Is Another “Color Revolution” Underway?|
|By Brandon Turbeville
Global Research, December 31, 2017
|Url of this article:
A familiar sight is taking place across Iran tonight and it has been for the last three days. Protests are taking place in numerous cities citing grievances and demanding that the Ayatollah and Iranian President step down. For a few days, the protests remained non-violent but now violence has indeed flared up as protesters have laid waste to a number of government properties and those belonging to “pro-government militias.”
The reason this sight is familiar is because we have seen it in Egypt, Libya, and Syria in the past as well as in Iran itself in the late 2000s. Protests that turn violent, a subsequent crackdown that either is violent or is reported as such, and the weight of American propaganda against the target government are all “Arab Spring” repeats that are themselves nothing more than the color revolution/destabilization apparatus that has been used by the West in countries all across the world for decades, particularly in the last twenty years.
What Do The Protesters Want?
The alleged demands of the protesters seem reasonable and legitimate enough. The Western media has, up until this point, been reporting that the main argument being made by the demonstrators center around economic concerns, i.e. falling living standards, unemployment, and rising food prices. However, as the third day of protests took place, the Western media began reporting that the protesters are demanding an end to religious dictatorship and policies of both the Ayatollah Khamenei and President Rouhani. According to some reports, female protesters have gone so far as to shout “death to Khamenei” and shed their hijabs in order to construct makeshift flags. Others say the protesters are focused on government corruption. (…) Full text attached: Barandon TURBEVILLE What Is Happening in Iran? Is Another “Color Revolution” Underway?