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Lavrov’s Trip To South Asia Is A Major Event

5 APRIL 2021

Lavrov

Russia will reinforce its traditional relations with India while continuing to pioneer its new partnership with Pakistan.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is visiting India and Pakistan this week. His trip to South Asia is a major event because of the larger strategic context in which it’s occurring. Russia’s top diplomat will be accompanied by Russian Special Envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov, who’s expected to brief both regional countries about the latest progress in the Afghan peace process. Moscow recently hosted yet another round of talks on this issue which saw all sides make progress towards a political solution to the long-running war, but it wasn’t without a little bit of controversy.

Some in India were upset that their country wasn’t invited to participate. That wasn’t an intentional slight on Russia’s part since it clarified that only those states which have ties with both warring parties – the Kabul government and the Taliban (which is designed by many as a terrorist group) – would join the talks in order to facilitate further progress. India doesn’t have any ties with the Taliban and had also only participated in previous rounds of Russian-hosted talks in an unofficial capacity as a result. Nevertheless, Mr. Kabulov is expected to bring the Indians up to speed about what was accomplished.

The Russian Foreign Minister might also update India about the outcome of his recent trip to China. Moscow previously praised February’s synchronized disengagement agreement between Beijing and New Delhi which saw them responsibly take steps to peacefully resolve last summer’s dispute along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Russia passionately believes in the merits of trilateral coordination through the Russia-India-China (RIC) framework, so its top diplomat will probably discuss that as well even though it isn’t the main item on his agenda. It’s important for Russia, India, and China to more closely cooperate against American aggression.

Speaking of which, India’s planned purchase of Russia’s S-400 air defense systems will probably be among the most important topics that Foreign Minister Lavrov discusses during his trip. The US is threatening to sanction India if it goes through with this deal under the controversial “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” (CAATSA). This stance is extremely counterproductive for its own national interests since it stands to complicate those two countries’ newfound strategic partnership. India thought that it could trust the US as a reliable ally but it’s quickly learning that such an optimistic expectation might have been premature.

Russia is arguably a much more reliable ally for India than the US ever will be, but economic ties between the two continue to disappoint their supporters. It’s for this reason that Foreign Minister Lavrov will likely discuss ways to scale them up in order for trade to finally reach its full potential with time. One of the most exciting means through which this could be accomplished is through the Vladivistok-Chennai Maritime Corridor (VCMC) that both sides unveiled in September 2019 during Prime Minister Modi’s attendance at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivistok as President Putin’s guest of honor at the time.

Moving along to Pakistan, Foreign Minister Lavrov’s trip will be first time in many years that Russia sent its top diplomat to the South Asian country. Russia and Pakistan used to be Cold War-era rivals and even fought a proxy war in Afghanistan in the 1980s, which is why it’s ironic that it’s Afghanistan of all issues that’s largely responsible for their rapid rapprochement in the present day. Both sides will of course discuss the Afghan peace process, but also other topics of shared interest such as anti-terrorist cooperation and energy. Earlier this year, Russia agreed to build the Pakistan Stream Gas Pipeline, which will begin construction this summer.

Moreover, Foreign Minister Lavrov will likely learn more about Pakistan’s multipolar grand strategy that its political, diplomatic, and military leaders simultaneously unveiled in the middle of last month during the inaugural Islamabad Security Dialogue. Pakistan envisions itself serving as the “Zipper of Eurasia”. It believes that its geostrategic location and hosting of the Belt & Road Initiative’s (BRI) flagship project of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) enable it facilitate the integration of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Eurasian Economic Union, and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

It’s for these strategic reasons why Foreign Minister Lavrov’s trip to South Asia is a major event. Not only will it advance the Afghan peace process, but it’ll also strengthen Russia’s regional presence in South Asia. Moscow will reinforce its traditional relations with New Delhi while continuing to pioneer its new partnership with Islamabad. This shows how important South Asia has become, both for the 21st century in general and Russian grand strategy in particular. Russia’s balanced approach in dispatching Foreign Minister Lavrov to both India and Pakistan perfectly epitomizes the win-win principles of President Putin’s Greater Eurasian Partnership.


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Can Russia’s S-400 Sale To India Trigger The Quad’s Collapse?

26 MARCH 2021

Can Russia

The US-led anti-Chinese Quad alliance of itself, Australia, India, and Japan might be on the brink of collapse according to influential BJP ideologue Subramanian Swamy, who warned that Washington might expel New Delhi from this bloc if it goes through with its planned purchase of Russia’s S-400 air defense systems.

One of the most geopolitically consequential blocs of the 21st century is unquestionably the Quad, a US-led anti-Chinese alliance that also includes Australia, India, and Japan. It presents one of the greatest strategic challenges to the emerging Multipolar World Order because of the potential that it has to offset China’s historic rise and therefore the new model of International Relations that it’s bringing to the forefront of global affairs. Many analysts have wondered what could possibly be done to stop the Quad, but most of them have since thrown up their hands in despair and seemingly accepted it as a fait accompli that they’re powerless to prevent. That strategic fatalism might have been a bit too premature, however, after influential BJP ideologue Subramanian Swamy’s public warning on Twitter on Thursday.

Russian publicly financed international media outlet Sputnik reported on his tweet, which read that “I notice none of my facts on Twitter have been proved wrong: 1. China has crossed LAC and occupied our territory. 2. Govt says disengagement has led to PLA withdrawal from Indian side of LAC is false 3. India buying S400 from Russia will lead to US expelling India from QUAD.” The reader should also be reminded that Swamy published a hateful anti-Russian article last October that elicited a very strong condemnation from the Russian Embassy in India at the time. India has the right to conduct its foreign affairs however it so chooses in line with what it describes as its “multi-alignment” strategy, but there should be little question in light of his recent statements that Swamy is seemingly pro-American with his outlook and at the very least unfriendly towards Russia.

This influential figure’s statements are at variance with what the Russian and Indian governments officially regard as their special and privileged strategic partnership that’s recently been experiencing a renaissance over the past few years, especially after Prime Minister Modi attended the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok in September 2019 as President Putin’s guest of honor. Despite some bumps in the road in the year and a half since, ties are back on the positive track following Foreign Secretary Shringla’s visit to Moscow last month. Quite clearly, Russian-Indian relations remain strong, which provides a much-needed element of certainty in the midst of what can be described as World War C, or the full-spectrum paradigm-changing processes catalyzed by the international community’s uncoordinated attempt to contain COVID-19.

The US’ repeated threats to sanction India for its planned S-400 purchase from Russia run the risk of complicating American-Indian relations, particularly when it comes to their hitherto close military cooperation in attempting to “contain” China through the Quad. Nevertheless, Prime Minister Modi remains determined to go through with the deal, which speaks of how highly he regards Russia’s role in India’s “multi-alignment” “balancing” act no matter how imperfectly he’s thus far executed it. Swamy’s warning can therefore be interpreted as pressure upon the premier from within his own government, which shows that some influential forces don’t agree with Prime Minister Modi’s strategic direction. They’d do well to reconsider their views though since it’s arguably in all of Eurasia’s interests that India concludes the S-400 deal with Russia.

Swamy might actually be right for once, though much to the detriment of the American-aligned grand strategic vision that he seemingly sympathizes with. The US might not literally expel India from the Quad if it receives Russia’s S-400 air defense systems, but their anti-Chinese military coordination would certainly be adversely affected, especially if America imposes sanctions like it’s repeatedly threatened to do. That, however, would by default strengthen India’s ties with Russia and China, thus providing a much-needed impetus for reviving their trilateral cooperation through through RIC and thereby strengthening both BRICS and the SCO as well. This could in turn accelerate the rise of the Eurasian Century, especially as it was recently articulated by Pakistani officials during last week’s inaugural Islamabad Security Dialogue.

In connection with that, it also deserve mention that ties between India and Pakistan are gradually thawing as a result of recent developments between the two, particularly last month’s surprise ceasefire that continues to hold at the time of this analysis’ publication and earlier reports that the UAE is secretly trying to broker a more comprehensive solution to the UNSC-recognized disputed territory of Kashmir. The resultant reduction of American influence in India in the aftermath of Washington likely going through with its sanctions threats against New Delhi could potentially remove the greatest threat to peace in the region since the US wouldn’t be as powerful as before to divide and rule South Asia by exploiting this unresolved conflict.

In other words, India’s purchase of Russia’s S-400s would be in both of those countries’ interests as well as China’s and Pakistan’s when one considers the larger Eurasian strategic picture. The Quad probably won’t collapse, nor is it to be expected that the US would expel India from this alliance, but the group’s anti-Chinese military capabilities might take a strong hit as New Delhi would be less prone to closely cooperate with Washington in this respect if it becomes victimized by American sanctions for its sovereign decision to go through with its Russian air defense deal. With these interconnected dynamics in mind, observers can therefore rightly describe the S-400 deal as potentially being a grand strategic game-changer provided that India retains the political will to go through with it despite Swamy’s and other influential forces’ efforts to stop it.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Tags: Russia, India, US, Sanctions, S-400s, Quad, China, Pakistan, Eurasian Century, Balancing.


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The Saudis’ Renewed Peace Push In Yemen Is Welcome, But Incomplete

23 MARCH 2021

The Saudis

The world must urgently act to relieve the Yemeni people’s years-long suffering in the midst of what the UN previously described as the planet’s worst humanitarian crisis, but this will require difficult compromises on the side of each warring party and their international supporters (both military and political ones alike), though all stakeholders can hopefully learn from the recent progress in peacefully resolving the Afghan War to bravely pioneer a new diplomatic track for bringing this about.

An Incomplete Peace Push

The Yemeni people continue to suffer in the midst of what the UN previously described as the planet’s worst humanitarian crisis, which shows no signs of improving anytime soon considering recent back-and-forth strikes by the Ansarullah rebels and Saudi Arabia against one another. Difficult compromises are required on the side of each warring party and their international supporters (both military and political ones alike), particularly the need for them to acknowledge the impossibility of achieving their envisaged maximalist outcomes. The Ansarullah will never control the entirety of Yemen, nor will the Saudi-led coalition succeed in militarily restoring the writ of internationally recognized President Hadi’s government over the northern reaches of the country. Against this backdrop, the Saudis’ renewed peace push in Yemen is certainly welcome, but it’s nevertheless incomplete. What’s crucially required is for all stakeholders to learn from the recent progress in peacefully resolving the Afghan War so as to bravely pioneer a new diplomatic track towards lasting peace.

The Afghan Antecedent

The past week saw Moscow host another round of peace talks that resulted in a promising joint statement which indicated each party’s willingness to continue negotiations towards the end result of an inclusive government. Russia’s diplomatic efforts complement Qatar’s as well as the upcoming US-proposed talks that are slated to be hosted in Istanbul next month. What these tracks have in common is that neutral parties are facilitating meaningful dialogue between the warring sides and other stakeholders in the conflict. In the Yemeni context, this excludes the GCC, the US, and Iran from hosting such talks considering that the first-mentioned is an active participant in the war, the second supporters the former, and the latter politically backs the Ansarullah rebels. As such, other states with positive relations with all parties must step up to the plate to propose hosting peace talks between the warring sides and stakeholders, with the most viable among them arguably being Russia and Pakistan.

A Russian-Pakistani Peace Push?

I wrote back in October 2019 that “Pakistan & Russia Might Hold The Keys To Iranian-Saudi Peace” after each of their leaders embarked on trips to the region around the same time as tensions were spiking between the two Gulf powers. No progress was achieved, whether individually or jointly, though Pakistan and Russia’s relations with Iran and Saudi Arabia continued to improve in the year and a half since. Moreover, intensified Pakistani-Russian diplomatic coordination in peacefully resolving the Afghan War has resulted in a newfound surge of trust between these two Old Cold War-era rivals which has served to accelerate their ongoing rapprochement. It would therefore be a natural extension of their evolving relationship, particularly in light of the progress that they’ve achieved in Afghanistan thus far, to consider the possibility of jointly proposing to host Yemeni peace talks in their respective capitals. This could solidify their rising diplomatic roles in becoming indispensable solutions to some of the world’s most seemingly intractable conflicts like Afghanistan.

Incipient Progress

Moscow already seems to be considering something of the sort with respect to Yemen after hosting the Southern Transitional Council (STC) last month while Islamabad’s offer of mediating between Riyadh and Tehran remains open, the latter of which can be indirectly accomplished by hosting Yemeni talks. Even if those two don’t get involved in the proposed peace process, it’s still important for a neutral state to host such negotiations, though it should preferably one with extensive experience in this field. Any random country wouldn’t suffice, and while the Europeans might be interested in playing this role, it’s unlikely that the Ansarullah and their Iranian political supporters would trust them. Observers should also remember that the Iranian nuclear deal hangs over the heads of every Western diplomat, and Tehran might suspect that this issue could be exploited throughout the course of Yemeni peace talks in a way that could put further pressure upon the Islamic Republic. By contrast, the Ansarullah and Iran don’t have the same concerns with Russia or Pakistan.

Pressing Issues

In any case, the proposed diplomatic track should first focus on immediately lifting the Saudi blockade of Yemen irrespective of whichever country or countries host this new process. It’s the continued imposition of that crippling blockade that provokes the Ansarullah into asymmetrically responding to Saudi Arabia through drone strikes, which in turn prompt reprisal attacks against them, the latter of which target economic and humanitarian infrastructure like grain silos as part of what many have compellingly claimed is the Kingdom’s genocidal war against its southern neighbor. On the topic of back-and-forth strikes, a ceasefire must also be negotiated in parallel with lifting the blockade in order to put an end to this destabilizing tit-for-tat and thus relieve the Yemeni people’s suffering. The other pressing issues that would eventually have to be addressed are the fate of the internationally recognized Hadi government and the final political status of South Yemen, which aspires to regain its independence.

A Federal Compromise

Once again, difficult compromises are required. Concerning the first of these two associated issues crucial to the long-term viability of any political solution to the conflict, the only pragmatic outcome might be the interim federalization of the country between its warring sides along the line of control as it exists at the moment of the ceasefire. The Ansarullah-controlled north would largely remain de facto independent while the south would remain de facto controlled by the STC but nominally under Hadi’s sway. The finer details of this arrangement – such as defense, taxes, parliamentary composition, travel between the two de facto internally partitioned halves, and so on – could be worked out later. What’s most important right now is to freeze the state of military-political affairs as it currently exists considering the near-impossibility of altering it by force and how unacceptable the humanitarian consequences of such a move would be for the average Yemeni who’s already been suffering worse than anyone else in the world for over six years already.

The Democratic Restoration Of South Yemen

As for the second of these associated issues, the only fair solution rests in allowing the South Yemenis to exercise their UN-enshrined right to democratic self-determination under a free and fair referendum, the timeline of which could be determined throughout the final stages of the peace process. On that topic, the key question is whether a majority vote throughout the lands of the former Democratic Republic of South Yemen should suffice for granting the entirety of that territory independence or if its peripheral regions that might not agree with this outcome should reserve the right to remain within the proposed Federal Yemen while the democratic secessionists regain part of their historic state. Of course, the internationally recognized Hadi government will probably oppose this pragmatic proposal since it almost certainly stands to lose its power, at least insofar as its nominal control of Aden goes, but his Saudi patrons must do their utmost to convince him that his purpose should be to serve as an interim leader in the run-up to this referendum.

Southern Scenario Forecast

Prognosticating that the outcome will see at least some geographic part of the former Democratic Republic of South Yemen opt for independence (most likely Aden and its immediate surroundings), the Hadi government would then have to relocate to whatever “loyalist” regions might remain, though provided of course that the pertinent peace agreement allows for regions that don’t vote for independence to stay within the proposed Federal Yemen and not automatically join the restored South Yemen. With this likely scenario in mind, it’s therefore advisable to include such a clause in any prospective peace agreement in order to avoid stoking the fire for a secondary conflict within a newly independent South Yemen between Aden and the peripheral regions that might have voted against joining the revived state. This option could also give the Hadi government a political future, though of course only if those people who would nominally remain under its writ accept its authority. In all likelihood, however, Hadi and his ilk might realize that it’s better to retire from political life if that happens and let the remnants of Federal Yemen democratically choose another leader.

Concluding Thoughts

The path to peace in Yemen is long, hard, and full of difficult compromises, but it can still be charted so long as the warring sides and their international supporters (both military and political) have the will to do what’s needed for the sake of the suffering Yemeni masses. Maximalist outcomes are impossible to attain at this point, and any continued push in that direction by either party is fraught with unacceptable humanitarian consequences. What’s required at this moment is for the involved stakeholders to learn from the recent progress in peacefully resolving the Afghan War and seriously consider the diplomatic involvement of neutral third parties like Pakistan and Russia to jump-start this process through the use of their mediation services between all direct and indirect parties to the conflict. The most immediate objective is to simultaneously lift the blockade and agree to a new ceasefire, after which plenty of thought must be put into the South Yemeni dimension of any political solution in order for it to be truly sustainable.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Tags: Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Ansarullah, Houthis, STC, South Yemen, Iran, Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Balancing.


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Lavrov Authoritatively Debunked The Fake News About Russian-‘Israeli’ Relations

19 MARCH 2021

Lavrov Authoritatively Debunked The Fake News About Russian-

Wednesday’s press conference in Moscow between the Russian and “Israeli” Foreign Ministers authoritatively debunked the rampant fake news that’s been virally spreading throughout the Alt-Media Community for years about the true nature of their bilateral relations, which remain excellent despite consistent efforts from some influential forces to misportray them as rivals for reasons that only such individuals can account for if publicly but politely challenged by their audience to do so.

Debunking The Latest Lie About Russian-”Israeli” Relations

Every member of the Alt-Media Community is familiar by now with the rampant fake news narrative that’s been virally spreading throughout their sphere of the information space for years already alleging that Russia and “Israel” are supposedly heated rivals with one another, so much so that President Putin might even be secretly plotting an all-out war against the self-professed “Jewish State”. The latest disinformation attack in that direction came late last month after it was falsely reported that Russian Special Envoy to Syria Alexander Lavrentiev threatened to shoot down “Israeli” jets over international airspace the next time that they bomb Syria. I responded to this ridiculous claim that even the most casual objective observer should have immediately known was unrealistic earlier this week in an analysis for The Alt World asking “Should Iran Be Worried About Russia’s Coordination With ‘Israel’ & The US In Syria?” That piece cites recent diplomatic developments and my prior work from late last month about the S-300s, the latter of which provides a list of my 15 most relevant analyses over the years for the reader to review at their leisure.

Relying On Lavrov’s Diplomatic Authority To Set The Record Straight

Despite my detailed analyses being based on objectively existing and easily verifiable facts that are always hyperlinked to their original source (which is usually an official one whenever possible), the most indoctrinated members of the Alt-Media Community still angrily claim that they’re “anti-Russian”, “divisive”, and/or “Zionist” “propaganda”, so powerful is the false narrative that they’ve been brainwashed into believing. That’s why it’s so important to review the highlights of Wednesday’s press conference between the Russian and “Israeli” Foreign Ministers as reported by the official website of the Russian Foreign Ministry, which can’t credibly be accused of being “anti-Russian”, “divisive”, and/or “Zionist” “propaganda”. The purpose in doing so is to hopefully enlighten the “moderate” members of the Alt-Media Community who might be willing to finally listen to the truth about Russian-”Israeli” relations so long as it comes from none other than Foreign Minister Lavrov, the most authoritative source on Russian foreign policy by virtue of his position as its top diplomat. What follows is a list of bullet points summarizing the gist of his key statements, followed by the specific quotes themselves:

A Collection Of Key Quotes

* Russian-”Israeli” Relations Are Guided By Putin & Netanyahu’s Shared Vision:

We believe that Russian-Israeli bilateral ties are making progress in accordance with the agreements reached between President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.”

* Russia & “Israel” Are Comprehensively Strengthening Their Relations, Including In The Defense Sphere:

We reiterated our commitment to promote interaction across all areas, including the economy, culture, science and education. Steady contacts have been established between the defence ministries.”

* Neither Supports The Dangerous Rehabilitation Of Nazism In Europe:

Russia and Israel have consistently opposed the increasingly frequent attempts to rewrite the history of WWII, to glorify Nazi war criminals and to revive neo-Nazism. We emphasised the importance of our acting jointly with the overwhelming majority of other countries in adopting the related annual resolution by the UN General Assembly.”

* Russia Supports The Arab-”Israeli” Normalization Process:

Moscow welcomes the normalisation of Israel’s relations with a number of Arab states and believes this should help advance a comprehensive settlement in the region, including the long-standing Palestinian problem.”

* Russia & “Israel” Are On The Same Page As Regards A Peaceful Resolution To The Syrian Conflict:

With regard to Syria, we have an overlapping position on the need for a political settlement based on the principles laid down in UN Security Council Resolution 2254. We declared our principled support for Syria’s sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity, and the Syrians’ legitimate right to decide on their own future without outside interference.”

* Russia Briefed “Israel” On Sensitive Aspects Of The Syrian Peace Process, Including Constitutional Reform

We updated our Israeli friends on Russia’s activities as part of the Astana format and other channels in order to help overcome various aspects of the Syria crisis. We focused particularly on stepping up the Constitutional Committee’s activities and shared our steps designed to make the upcoming 6th meeting of the Constitutional Committee’s drafting committee productive.”

* Russia Hinted That “Israel” Might Be Interested In Providing Humanitarian Support To Syria:

We also spoke about the need to help overcome the humanitarian crisis in Syria, where the infrastructure has been destroyed and the people are suffering badly in the wake of crippling sanctions imposed by the United States and other countries.”

* Russia Also Hinted That “Israel” Might Join Moscow’s Proposed Gulf Collective Security System:

We mentioned Russia’s initiative to form a collective security system in the Gulf region with the potential to include neighbouring countries.”

* Russia Sincerely Trusts “Israel” And Vice-Versa:

I believe we had productive talks. We appreciate mutual trust in our contacts with our Israeli colleagues on all matters on the bilateral and multilateral agendas.”

* Russia Is Against The ICC’s Investigation Into “Israeli” War Crimes In Palestine, Believing It’s Politically Biased:

We have a negative impression of this body. This is our principled and consistent position. When the ICC was created, we hoped it would be an independent and professional judicial body with the potential to eventually become a universal body. In reality, it turned out to be the other way round.

The ICC has not lived up to our expectations. It has repeatedly demonstrated a political bias, a lack of professionalism or understanding of certain rules of international law, made mistakes in using them and, contrary to the Rome Statute provisions, unjustifiably tried to expand its competence by invading spheres that are beyond its terms of reference.”

Russia has refused to participate in this and has revoked its signature under statute. Israel did so even earlier. China, India and many other states are not part of the ICC. Even the countries that are parties to the Rome Statute recognise the systemic problems plaguing ICC functions. Unfortunately, the ICC has discredited itself and the mission that was entrusted to it. Any action taken in The Hague must be viewed through this lens and in light of the court’s tarnished reputation.”

Analytical Wrap-Up

As evidenced from the above, there’s no doubt that Russia and “Israel” are much more akin to allies than rivals nowadays. They sincerely trust one another and Moscow supports Tel Aviv on practically every issue of significance, including its opposition to the ICC’s investigation into the self-professed “Jewish State’s” war crimes in Palestine. The Eurasian Great Power hopes to see its de facto regional ally eventually incorporated into the proposed Gulf collective security system, and it also seemingly appreciates the insight that it provides about the Syrian peace process as well during their close consultations on this matter of mutual interest, especially as relates to the Arab Republic’s ongoing constitutional reform. Unlike what many in the Alt-Media Community have been falsely led to believe for years and even as most recently as last month, there exist no serious military disagreements between Russia and “Israel”, as confirmed by Lavrov himself when talking about the “steady contacts” that have been established between their Defense Ministries. This key quote crucially debunks the fake news about Russia allegedly threatening to shoot down “Israeli” jets.

Holding The Alt-Media Community To Account

Nevertheless, it’s all but certain that some of the Alt-Media Community’s key influencers – particularly those whose claim to fame is their coverage of the Syrian conflict – will either suspiciously ignore the objectively existing and easily verifiable policy facts presented in Wednesday’s joint Russian-”Israeli” Foreign Ministers press conference or concoct some crazed theory to protect their precious disinformation narrative about their ties. At all costs, the most responsible truth-seeking members of the Alt-Media Community must hold those said influencers (who in some cases might arguably be deliberate deceivers) to account by publicly but very politely challenging them about their response to this latest diplomatic development. They must be presented with the Russian Foreign Ministry’s official readout of Wednesday’s joint press conference that’s accessible here and asked to share their opinion about Lavrov’s official policy pronouncements. It’s time to find out who’s lying to themselves due to their own wishful thinking delusions as influenced by Alt-Media disinformation and who’s deliberately lying to others about this sensitive issue, including through suspicious omission of the facts.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Tags: Russia, Israel, Lavrov, Fake News, Infowars, Alt-Media, Syria, Balancing, ICC, Palestine, Putin, Netanyahu.


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Bild’s Libelous Spy Claim Against RT Is Part Of The German Hybrid War On Russia

11 MARCH 2021

Bild

Russian-German relations continue to tank after Bild’s libelous spy claim against RT left little doubt that Germany is waging a Hybrid War on Russia, though Berlin still hopes to complete Nord Stream II in order to retain a limited degree of strategic autonomy in Europe vis-a-vis its Washington patron and enable the Central European country to possibly influence Moscow’s “balancing” act with Beijing.

The Gist Of Germany’s Hybrid War On Russia

Contrary to what many in the Alt-Media Community inaccurately claimed for years, Germany isn’t trying to partner with Russia as part of some “master plan” to remove American influence from Europe but is actively waging a Hybrid War against the Eurasian Great Power to expand Berlin’s influence there at Moscow’s expense. Bild’s libelous spy claim against RT are but the latest iteration of this comprehensive strategy, which follow in the footsteps of German banks refusing to do business with RT-affiliated companies shortly after the outlet announced its plans to launch RT Deutsche at the end of the year. It also shouldn’t be forgotten that not only did Germany earlier treat allegedly poisoned anti-corruption blogger and NATO agent Alexei Navalny, but it also supported the 2013-2014 urban spree of terrorism in Ukraine that’s commonly known as “EuroMaidan” as well as presently backs the spiritually similar Color Revolution movement that erupted in neighboring Belarus last summer. The Central European country still hopes to complete Nord Stream II, but only in order to retain a limited degree of strategic autonomy in Europe vis-a-vis its American patron and enable Germany to possibly influence Russia’s “balancing” act with China. All of this insight will now be explained in detail.

Bild’s Libelous Allegation Against RT

Regarding Bild’s libelous allegation, the tabloid claims that a former RT investigative journalist suspected that he was being exploited as a useful idiot to illegally spy on Navalny during his period of treatment in the German capital. Their full article in German can be read here. Upon reviewing the piece, it’s clear that the Russian outlet did nothing wrong. If anything, the only criticism that can be leveled against the company is that its management might have been so eager in their competitive drive to get the scoop about this globally relevant story that they unintentionally made one of their former employees feel uncomfortable. Their reported tactics, however, aren’t anything exceptional in this industry but are par for the course even if the average news consumer is largely unaware that this is how that line of work generally operates. Real-time brainstorming between some senior managers and the employee in question over Telegram is dishonestly misportrayed in a scandalous way akin to a spymaster giving their agent secret orders. RT vowed legal action to clear its name and seems to stand a solid chance at succeeding, especially since the former employee released a book about his experiences the day before the scandal broke and thus seems to have provoked all of this just for publicity.

Banking Obstacles

On the topic of German banks refusing to do business with RT-affiliated companies, this clearly seems to be part of the host country’s campaign against the Russian outlet. Bild’s libelous allegation adds fuel to the fire that RT’s network of affiliates is toxic to associate with, which might have also been one of the supplementary objectives behind the latest scandal. It’s evident that Germany is doing all that it can to impede the launch and subsequent activities of RT’s forthcoming German-language channel by the end of the year. There are also active efforts underway to discredit its activities far ahead of time, potentially to manufacture the supposedly “plausible pretext” for the government to promulgate legislation to prevent it from operating. That theory makes sense from a strategic standpoint because everything that the company has endured over the past month points to a concerted campaign aimed towards that end. German officials fear the influence that RT’s German-language channel could have on shaping the domestic debate, yet they’re currently powerless to apply existing legal mechanisms to stop it. That might soon change as a result of the latest scandals in addition to whatever other provocations might be still committed before the planned December launch.

Merkel’s Color Revolution Mania

Germany’s prior treatment of Navalny following his alleged poisoning was officially a humanitarian gesture but one that was politically exploited for the purpose of discrediting Russia after the patient’s speculative claims that his homeland’s security services were responsible for his medical emergency. German officials participated in this latest escalation of the West’s long-running information war against Russia, which served to incite unauthorized rallies across some of the Eurasian Great Power’s main cities, especially its capital. In fact, the Russian government even expelled a German diplomat alongside two of their Polish and Swedish counterparts who directly took part in those proto-Color Revolution events. This shouldn’t have been surprising since one mustn’t forget that Berlin supported the infamous 2014 “EuroMaidan” Color Revolution regime change operation and subsequent coup in Ukraine. The Central European country also backs a similar albeit much less successful movement in Belarus. An indisputable pattern of behavior is on full display in which Germany actively aids Eastern European Color Revolutions in Ukraine, Belarus, and nowadays even Russia itself as part of its efforts to assert itself as the continent’s hegemon at the “Lead From Behind” behest of its American patron.

Germany’s Ulterior Motives For Supporting Nord Stream II

Even so, Germany also doesn’t want to surrender all of its strategic autonomy to the US either, ergo why it continues to press ahead with Nord Stream II. Although that megaproject is officially apolitical, it’ll nevertheless enable Berlin to retain a limited degree of strategic autonomy upon its full completion, which explains why the US is so adamantly against it since Washington fears that Berlin might subsequently feel emboldened to undertake certain political courses that America doesn’t approve of. Some of these might speculatively relate to the Central European state leading an EU rapprochement with Russia that some countries like Poland fear would be at the eventual expense of their regional interests. The US in turn has been preemptively seeking to support the rise of the Polish-led “Three Seas Initiative” (3SI) for the purpose of carving out a “sphere of influence” between the Adriatic, Baltic, and Black Seas that could serve as a pro-American geostrategic wedge between Germany and Russia in that scenario. In his country’s defense, German Foreign Minister Heiko Mass suspiciously claimed last month that Nord Stream II would actually enhance “Europe’s abilities to influence Russia” by not pushing the Eurasian Great Power into China’s arms like would happen if the project is scuttled.

It’s Against German Interests To Push Russia Into China’s Arms

Some further elaboration is required in order for the reader to better understand the complex strategic dynamics at play. To simplify, Russia’s 21st-century grand strategic ambition is to become the supreme “balancing” force in Eurasia, to which end it seeks to work a lot closer with China following the imposition of the West’s anti-Russian sanctions in 2014 but is nevertheless also seeking to “balance” the People’s Republic in a “friendly” manner via their fellow BRICS and SCO partner India. From the standpoint of EU-leader Germany, the continent’s full compliance with its American patron’s strategic demands to impose a policy of so-called “maximum pressure” against Moscow through the scuttling of Nord Stream II would accelerate Russia’s “Eastern Pivot” and ultimately be disadvantageous for German interests. This would be especially so if the Eurasian Great Power implemented some of the 20 proposals that the author shared last month for how it could “contain” the US in response to intensified Western pressure upon it. German rhetoric has been more aggressive against Russia lately, which is why the latter fears the seemingly inevitable establishment of an ideological wall between them as a consequence of the New Cold War, so this scenario isn’t purely speculative.

The German-American Strategic Divergence Over Russia

It’s here where the German and American strategies diverge in their joint Hybrid War on Russia. Berlin agrees with Washington insofar as keeping up the pressure on Moscow, but it doesn’t want to push Russia too far lest it risk the consequences of the Eurasian Great Power being compelled to abandon Europe per the gist of the 20 aforementioned proposals, wholeheartedly embracing China in response, and therefore qualitatively empowering the People’s Republic in its quest to become the leading force in the Eastern Hemisphere. Germany fears that such a state of affairs might eventually entail the EU making “concessions” to China or at the very least being caught up too closely in the New Cold War between Washington and Beijing, which it’s already in the middle of but has yet to become as intense of a scene for strategic competition as it could be in that scenario. Ideally, Germany would prefer for Russia to keep one foot in Europe through Nord Stream II and the other in Asia through its Sino-Indo “balancing” act, which could enable Berlin to “balance” between Washington, Moscow, and Beijing more adroitly. The US, however, prefers the EU’s full submission to its “sphere of influence” and doesn’t care about the consequences of intensified competition with China there.

Russia’s “Asian Pivot” Might Ruin Its Sino-Indo “Balancing” Act

As for Russia, while it’ll pivot eastward in support of its interests if the circumstances compel it to, the country also fears the long-term consequences of becoming strategically over-reliant on China. This explains its tricky “balancing” act between China and India, which it practices in an attempt to preserve as much of its strategic autonomy as possible, exactly as Germany is attempting to do vis-a-vis Russia and the US via Nord Stream II. If that megaproject is scuttled, however, then Russia wouldn’t have as effective of a means of “balancing” Eurasia since it’ll be forced to abandon the Western half of its strategy and thus become entirely dependent on its Eastern one. Russia can’t properly “balance” China and India in such a scenario since those two might inevitably enter into a rapid rapprochement if Washington sanctions New Delhi for its S-400 purchase like it threatened to and thus compels the South Asian state to implement what critics might describe as “concessions” towards the People’s Republic since it would lose the ability to militarily contain Beijing along the Line of Actual Control (seeing as how Moscow wouldn’t replace Washington’s role in this respect in order to avoid provoking a security dilemma with the People’s Republic). Russia might then become less relevant in Asian affairs.

The Convergence Of Russian, German, And American Interests

This strategic insight suggests that Russian, German, and American interests indirectly align over Nord Stream II. Its completion would bolster Moscow’s “balancing” capabilities vis-a-vis Beijing, thus preventing Berlin and Brussels from becoming intensified objects of competition between the US and China if Russia eventually becomes a second-rate geopolitical player in Eurasia as might happen if the project isn’t completed, which could in turn endanger the viability of Washington’s hegemony there. That outcome is entirely possible upon Russia being pushed out of Europe in the event that its pipeline is scuttled and then de facto transformed into the junior partner of what might then become the Asian-wide Sino-Indo alliance that could blossom following speculative “concessions” by New Delhi should Moscow’s tricky “balancing” act between them fail. The worst-case scenario for the US is that China pushes it out of Europe once Russia’s influence there is neutralized by the US first, which could in divide the world between Beijing and Washington along hemispheric axes. With time, China would inevitably win the New Cold War, but America could prevent this if it doesn’t “lose” Europe, which requires saving the viability of Russia’s “balancing” act by allowing Nord Stream II to be completed as planned.

Concluding Thoughts

It might be a lot for the reader to take in, so they should consider rereading the piece after putting it down for a while to ponder the complex strategic insight contained within it. What’s being argued is that Germany’s Hybrid War on Russia veritably exists as evidenced by Bild’s libelous accusation against RT, the country’s banks refusing to service RT-affiliated companies, Berlin’s support of Navalny, and the Central European state’s active backing of Color Revolutions in Ukraine, Belarus, and even Russia nowadays. Nevertheless, this Hybrid War does indeed have its limits since Germany still wants to preserve Nord Stream II so as to prevent the feared collapse of Russia’s Eurasian “balancing” act that could in turn lead to China becoming the preeminent superpower all across the Eastern Hemisphere (which entails speculative eventual “concessions” by Berlin and Brussels to Beijing). The US doesn’t see the situation the same way and arrogantly believes that its hegemonic control over Europe is best preserved by compelling its proxies to fully submit to its strategic diktats, not realizing that America actually needs Russia’s “balancing” act in order to comparatively keep China somewhat more at bay. The fate of Nord Stream II might therefore prove to be a game-changer for Eastern Hemispheric geopolitics.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Tags: Russia, Germany, Merkel, Putin, RT. Fake News, Infowars, Hybrid War, Nord Stream II, China, Balancing, US, EU, Navalny, Color Revolutions, Ukraine, Belarus, Regime Change.


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America’s Following In Russia’s Diplomatic Footsteps In Afghanistan

9 MARCH 2021

America

US Special Afghan Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad’s new approach to resolving the War on Afghanistan follows in Russia’s diplomatic footsteps by encouraging the creation of an inclusive government between Kabul and the Taliban and including India as an official party to the international talks on this topic, though it also innovates upon Moscow’s proposed solution by suggesting that Turkey host such negotiations in the coming future.

Late last month President Putin’s Special Envoy to Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov made headlines after proposing the creation of an inclusive transitional coalition government in Afghanistan between Kabul and the Taliban, yet the US is now officially following in Moscow’s diplomatic footsteps after its own Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad gave a letter from Secretary of State Blinken to the country’s top political leaders suggesting the same solution. I explained the Russian approach at length in my analysis at the time about “How Russia’s Special Afghan Envoy Wants To Save The Struggling Peace Process”, which should be reviewed by the reader in order to obtain a more solid understanding of the Great Power’s evolving position towards the conflict. As for the US, it seems to have realized that this outcome is inevitable and therefore decided to take the wind out of Russia’s diplomatic sails to an extent by attempting to take leadership of this political process. In addition, America is following Russia’s lead by including India as an official party to the international talks on this topic while innovating upon its proposed solution by suggesting that Turkey host such negotiations in the coming future.

New Delhi was already invited to participate in the Moscow peace process, but that round of talks couldn’t ever be as important as anything that Washington leads by simple virtue of the fact that America retains the largest foreign military force in Afghanistan. Although the US observed the talks in the Russian capital, it didn’t actively participate in them, though it seemingly learned enough to realize that it’s in the country’s grand strategic interests to ensure that India isn’t excluded from the latest round that it wants Turkey to host. This can be explained by the US’ efforts to continue courting India to its side against China in the New Cold War, which is all the more urgent for it after New Delhi and Beijing agreed to a synchronized de-escalation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) last month. In my analysis at the time about “How India’s Regional Strategy Is Adapting To The Post-Trump Reality”, I attributed it to New Delhi’s uncertainty over Washington’s envisioned geostrategic role for it under the Biden Administration due to concerns about the impact of a possible US-Chinese detente and repeated threats to sanction the South Asian state over its decision to purchase Russia’s S-400 systems.

The diplomatic elephant in the room is unquestionably the global pivot state of Pakistan, whose consistently pragmatic approach to resolving the conflict by including the Taliban as a legitimate political party to the conflict’s solution (in spite of its official designation as a terrorist group by countries like the US and Russia) ultimately ended up being supported by everyone except India and Iran, both of which have a history of serious problems with the group. Nevertheless, those two are forced by diplomatic inertia to go along with events whether they like it or not, though the US doesn’t want them to feel left out of the process because it fears the political consequences that this impression could have on India’s anti-Chinese Quad activities and the recent push to revive the Iranian nuclear deal. Washington also knows how sensitive New Delhi and Tehran are towards the optics of Islamabad being right all along and even influencing Moscow of all parties to go along with its consistently pragmatic approach to resolving this conflict. There are also more indirect motives at play too which concern the Central Asian strategy that the Biden Administration inherited from Trump.

I analyzed this last year in my piece about how “The US’ Central Asian Strategy Isn’t Sinister, But That Doesn’t Mean It’ll Succeed” where I explained how America is exploring the option of “economic diplomacy” to ensure its post-withdrawal influence in the Eurasian Heartland. Not only does it aspire to use N-CPEC+ as a means for enhancing its role in the region, but it also hopes that the eastern branch of India’s North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC) through Iran to Afghanistan and the Central Asian Republics can result in New Delhi counterbalancing Moscow’s and Beijing’s influence there afterwards. This explains why the US has always granted a sanctions waiving to India for its Chabahar port project. It also adds a new strategic dimension to Blinken’s written announcement that Turkey will hold Afghan talks in the coming future. Washington has an interest in seeing the Lapis Lazuli Corridor from Afghanistan to the EU via Turkmenistan, the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan, and Turkey be completed in order to expand Turkish and European influence in this same space for geostrategic “balancing” purposes.

To be absolutely, neither Pakistan, India, Iran, nor Turkey have any intentions of expanding their influence in Central Asia via their respective “economic diplomacy” initiatives of N-CPEC+, the NSTC’s eastern branch, and the Lapis Lazuli Corridor in any “unfriendly” manner that goes against Russian and/or Chinese strategic objectives there, but the inevitable cumulative effect of more countries getting involved in the Eurasian Heartland will ultimately result in a greater “balance” of interests there. All relevant parties with the exception of India support the Golden Ring proposal that I elaborated on in my March 2018 analysis, “From ‘Bandwagoning’ Against Eurasia To ‘Circling The Wagons’ In The Center Of It”, but this ambitious vision of course requires very close coordination between each stakeholder which might still take some time to materialize. In the interim, the US hopes that it can encourage “emerging dynamics” of “natural (albeit ‘friendly’) competition” to take hold and therefore offset this scenario, especially relating to the exploitation of mutual strategic suspicions between China & India, and perhaps even to a lesser extent, Iran & Turkey.

It’ll be really interesting for observers to watch how America’s latest diplomatic initiatives in Afghanistan play out, particularly its push to include the Taliban in an inclusive government as well as the US’ encouragement of greater Indian and Turkish roles in this overall process, but it mustn’t be forgotten that Washington is basically following in Moscow’s footsteps when it comes to this political solution. It was Russia’s tacit embrace of Pakistan’s consistently pragmatic stance to include the Taliban as a legitimate party to the peace process despite its designation as a terrorist organization that inspired the US to change its position in response, as well as Moscow’s support of New Delhi’s involvement in all of this. The Turkish element is a unique twist that wasn’t foreseen but nevertheless aligns with America’s envisioned “economic diplomacy” towards the post-war region. The ideal outcome would be the peaceful establishment of a joint Kabul-Taliban government (at least for the time being) in parallel with tangible progress being made on building the Golden Ring in such a way that India could play a constructive role in it too, but the actual outcome is likely to be a lot more complex than that.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Tags: US, Russia, Afghanistan, Taliban, India, Turkey, Kabul, Balancing, Central Asia, CPEC, CPEC+, N-CPEC+, Lapis Lazuli Corridor, NSTC, Iran, Economic Diplomacy.


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Biden’s Playing Hardball With MBS

2 MARCH 2021

Biden

The promulgation of the US’ so-called “Khashoggi ban” in response to its intelligence agencies determining that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) was behind that dissident journalist’s brutal killing shows that the Biden Administration is playing hard ball with the Kingdom’s future ruler, though there’s only so far that it’ll go in this respect since it’s still important for America to still retain some degree of regional strategic “balance” despite its newfound willingness to renegotiate the Iranian nuclear deal.

US-Saudi relations are drastically changing under the Biden Administration as evidenced by its promulgation of the so-called “Khashoggi ban” in response to American intelligence agencies determining that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) was behind that dissident journalist’s brutal killing. This shows that the Biden Administration is playing hardball with the Kingdom’s future ruler, though there’s only so far that it’ll go in this respect. As it stands, the pro-Democrat members of the permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) that pull the President’s strings intend to diversify their country’s hitherto regional strategic dependence on Saudi Arabia in line with former President Obama’s vision by improving relations with Iran. Nevertheless, there’s only so far that they’ll go in this respect since it’s still important for them to retain some degree of “balance” so as not to push the Kingdom further into Russia and China’s arms.

On the one hand, the US wants to make it clear that the days of Saudi Arabia calling the shots are over. Washington will no longer allow its regional strategy to be led by Riyadh. This also explains Biden’s pragmatic recalibration of his country’s policy towards Yemen, which was also influenced by the desire to send a goodwill signal to Iran about Washington’s willingness to re-enter into negotiations on the nuclear deal. That arguably went against Saudi regional strategic interests, yet the Kingdom was powerless to stop its patron from implementing this policy reversal, at least for the time being. In parallel with this, American intelligence decided to punish some Saudis for Khashoggi’s murder, which was also intended to further erode the Kingdom’s already damaged reputation, and MBS’ personally. The tangential objective is to put pressure on MBS to comply with the US’ new regional policy instead of opposing it lest he risk the ever-present threat of a palace coup.

On the other hand, however, American strategists are aware that these moves will only encourage the Kingdom to intensify its growing relations with Russia and China. It already cooperates real closely with Moscow on energy issues (OPEC+) and Beijing on military (drones) and investment (Vision 2030) matters. Saudi Arabia also agreed to an arms deal with Russia a few years back during King Salman’s historic visit to Moscow which eventually saw the Eurasian Great Power delivering state-of-the-art rocket launchers to the Kingdom that presumably saw action during the ongoing War on Yemen. The US fears these two Great Power’s multipolar coordination in courting the Kingdom to their side in the New Cold War, especially as it relates to the possibility of Riyadh supporting Beijing’s plans for the “petroyuan”, so it knows that it’ll either have to hold back on playing hardball with MBS or move forward with replacing him in the worst-case scenario.

This “deep state”/geostrategic dynamic explains why American intelligence agencies publicly blamed MBS for Khashoggi’s killing yet Biden backed off from personally punishing him for this. It’s a “good cop/bad cop” type of play, but one which is being made in order to put Saudi Arabia back in place after it ran the former Trump Administration’s regional policy in partnership with its unofficial “Israeli” ally. Those two players stand in the way of the Biden (Obama 2.0) Administration’s risky gambit to restore “balance” to their country’s regional strategy by reaching out to Iran through “nuclear diplomacy” and other means, though all the while retaining pressure on the Islamic Republic as well as can be seen by Biden’s Syria strike last week. If clumsily executed, however, then the US might ultimately end up provoking a so-called “polar reorientation” whereby Saudi Arabia and “Israel” “jump ship” by siding with Russia and China in response to any meaningful US-Iranian rapprochement.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Tags: US, Saudi Arabia, Biden, MBS, Iran, China, Russia, Israel, Balancing.


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Balancing Regional Interests In Syria Is The Only Way Reach A Compromise Solution

8 FEBRUARY 2021

Balancing Regional Interests In Syria Is The Only Way Reach A Compromise Solution

Politically resolving the Hybrid War of Terror on Syria will involve difficult compromises on all sides, but this is only possible if each party acknowledges their counterparts’ regional interests and Russian diplomats are able to successfully devise a creative solution for “balancing” between them as best as possible.

The Impossibility Of A Military Solution

The Hybrid War of Terror on Syria cannot be resolved militarily by any of the participating parties. The US and its fellow anti-Syrian allies, which importantly include “Israel” and Turkey to differing but not necessarily always coordinated degrees, are unable to forcefully overthrow the country’s democratically elected and legitimate government. In fact, one can argue that they don’t even pursue that goal all that seriously anymore after having informally accepted President Assad’s continued leadership of Syria, who they’ve learned to imperfectly live with after all these years. At the same time, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) is unable to unilaterally liberate all of its territory from the occupying American and Turkish forces. This is especially the case after Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov reaffirmed late last month that Russia “cannot expel it, and we will not clash with US forces” in Syria, hence why he reminded everyone of his country’s “so-called deconfliction” talks with it. It’s for this reason why the war has largely remained frozen on the military front over the past few years.

The Long Path Towards A Political Solution

The only solution is therefore a political one, but this is only possible if each party acknowledges their counterparts’ regional interests and Russian’ diplomats are able to successfully devise a creative solution for “balancing” between them as best as possible. This might sound like wishful thinking to many at the moment, but it’s the only realistic way out of the present impasse, no matter how difficult some of the compromises might be. Of course, any potential solution must involve the means to verify each party’s compliance and ensure enforcement against all violators without discrimination. It might still be a long way off before anything like that is agreed to, but that noble goal must be the basis for beginning talks to that end at the soonest possible moment. To facilitate these efforts, it’s worthwhile remembering each party’s regional interests, after which a discussion can commence for exploring the most realistic extent to which each one of them might compromise on reaching a final Russian-brokered agreement to end the war.

Respective Interests

Syria:

* Sustain Anti-Terrorist Gains

* Liberate The Rest Of The Occupied Territories

* Retain The Centralized State Structure

* Remove The Crippling Sanctions Regime

* Reconstruct The Country

Russia:

* Sustain Anti-Terrorist Gains

* Maintain A Long-Term Military Presence In Syria

Avoid A Larger War Erupting In Syria Between Iran & “Israel”

* Leverage Diplomatic Leadership To “Balance” The Region

* Maximize Post-War Economic Dividends

Iran:

* Sustain Anti-Terrorist Gains

* Prove To Damascus That It’s More Of An All-Around Reliable Ally Than Russia

* Receive An Eventual Economic “Return On Investment” For Saving Syria

* Entrench Military Presence In Syria As Long-Term Strategic Leverage Against “Israel”

* Strengthen The Axis Of Resistance

Turkey:

* Prevent The Emergence Of A PKK-Pioneered Terror Corridor In Northern Syria

* Ensure That Turkish-Backed “Rebels” Have A Political Role In Post-War Syria

* Demonstrate To Regional Allies That It’s A Reliable Partner

* Strengthen Strategic Relations With Russia And Iran Through The Astana Process

* Establish Global Respect As A Rising Great Power

US/”Israel”

* Maintain Pressure On Damascus Through Unconventional (“Rebel”/Terrorist/Sanctions) Means

* Permanently Neutralize The Anti-”Israeli” Capabilities Of The SAA

* Expel Iranian Military Forces From Syria

* Retain “Freedom Of Action” To Conduct “Surgical Strikes”

* “Decentralize” Syria To Redistribute Damascus’ Power To Allied Proxies

Assessing Strategic Successes And The Lack Thereof

With the above-mentioned strategic goals of all relevant players in mind, it’s now time to assess their successes and lack thereof. What follows is a simplified bullet point list of the present state of affairs:

* ISIS’ “Caliphate” Has Been Dismantled But Terror Threats Persist Along Syria’s Periphery

* Foreign Forces Continue To Support “Rebel”/Terrorist Groups

* Political Progress Towards Peace Is Practically Non-Existent Because Of A Refusal By All To Compromise

* Turkey Is The Only Party Continuing To Resist The Syrian Kurds’ Participation In The Peace Process

* US-Enforced Sanctions Will Remain Until Damascus Irreversibly Compromises On Political Issues

* Russia Sat Back While “Israel” Reportedly Hit 50 Targets In Syria Last Year Alone

* Russia Has Yet To Allow Syria To Operate The S-300s To Defend Itself From “Israeli” Strikes

* Russia’s Reshaping Syria’s ‘Deep State’ In Its Own Image” To Reduce Iranian Influence

* Russia’s Regional Diplomatic Role Continues To Rise As A Result Of Its “Balancing” Act

Zero-Sum Interests

Building off of these observations, the following zero-sum interests are presently obstructing a solution:

* Syria Won’t Consider Political Compromises Until Its Territory Is Liberated And Sanctions Removed; The US And Turkey Won’t Withdraw And Remove Their Sanctions Until Syria Makes Political Compromises

* Turkey Won’t Fully Support The Political Process In Syria If The Kurds Are Involved; All Other Players Believe That The Political Process Can’t Succeed Without The Kurds’ Involvement

* “Israel” Will Continue Bombing Iran In Syria Until The Latter Fully Withdraws; Iran Won’t Seriously Consider Withdrawing From Syria Until “Israel” No Longer Poses A Direct Threat To It And Its Syrian Ally’s Forces

* The US & “Israel” Will Continue Pressuring Damascus Through Unconventional Means Until It Politically Compromises And Expels Iran; Damascus Won’t Consider Either Until Those Two Stop Pressuring It

* Russia Is The Best Suited Of Syria’s Allies For Promoting Damascus’ Interests Among Relevant Hostile Players; Syrian Interests Will Always Be Subservient To Russia’s Own With Respect To Its “Balancing” Act

Summarized Insight

Considering everything, a Russian-brokered compromise solution would have to do the seemingly impossible by resolving the contradictions between each relevant players’ zero-sum interests. This would naturally involve painful compromises by each party except for itself since none of the others have the political will to cross its red lines by either militarily targeting its forces (relevant for Iran/Turkey/US/”Israel”) or expelling it from the country (such as if Syria ever became fed up with Russia’s “balancing” act being carried out as its “perceived expense”). The three most controversial issues in the grand scheme of things are the refusal of any domestic party to compromise on the peace process and thus lead to promised sanctions relief, the continued US and Turkish military occupations of Syria (“Israel’s” Golan one is taken for granted), and Iran’s continued military presence in Syria which is exploited by “Israel” to “justify” its regular attacks. Quite clearly, these three bones of connection must somehow be creatively addressed by any speculative Russian-brokered compromise solution.

Speculating On A Russian-Brokered Compromise Solution

As the most realistic starting point, Russia can “lean on” Syria to promise constitutionally enshrined decentralization in the currently occupied territories allowing for a greater degree of local political and cultural autonomy for groups opposed to Damascus’ centralization policies there while preventing them from conducting their own military and diplomatic relations with foreign powers. If agreed with all relevant players ahead of time, this could satisfy some of the US and Turkey’s political demands while also ensuring Syria’s national security interests. Should progress be made on this front, then Syria could request Iran’s dignified but phased withdrawal from the country in parallel with symmetrical US and Turkish steps culminating with the gradual lessening of sanctions in order to facilitate much-needed reconstruction. As a guarantee against continued “Israeli” aggression afterwards, Russia could then transfer control of the S-300s to the SAA and even consider exporting state-of-the-art S-400s to it too upon all foreign forces’ ultimate withdrawal from Syria.

Concluding Thoughts

The proposed Russian-brokered compromise solution for politically ending the Hybrid War of Terror on Syria is admittedly imperfect and might even be unrealistic so long as even one of the relevant parties lacks the political will to compromise on their zero-sum interests. The key to success lies in Russia leveraging its “balancing” act to foster indirect trust between hostile players through their shared belief in the sincerity of Moscow’s efforts to achieve tangible gains in these respects, after which they could all work on agreeing to timelines for each phase of the suggested peace plan. Nevertheless, partisan disagreements within each relevant party’s government could ultimately derail any progress that might be made if even one of them unilaterally reverses its previously (whether publicly or secretly) agreed commitments to each step, such as if their opponents provocatively presented their compromises as being a “loss of face”. It’ll therefore be very difficult to pull this off, but a political solution is the only possible one since a military solution is impossible.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Tags: Syria, US, Russia, Iran, Turkey, Israel, Kurds, ISIS, Balancing.


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Russian & Iranian Experts Finally Discussed Their Differences Over Syria

Russian & Iranian Experts Finally Discussed Their Differences Over Syria

28 DECEMBER 2020

Russian & Iranian Experts Finally Discussed Their Differences Over Syria

The Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) and the Institute for Iran-Eurasia Studies (IRAS) published a joint report addressing their nations’ differences over Syria which finally breaks the taboo about openly discussing them and will hopefully inspire more regular expert interactions on these important issues.

Breaking The Taboo

It had hitherto been taboo for many in the Alt-Media Community to discuss the differences between Russia and Iran in Syria for fear of unwittingly playing into the West’s divide-and-rule scheme against two of its main rivals, yet the failure to publicly discuss them led to the creation of an alternative reality whereby many people felt pressured by the community’s gatekeepers to imagine that no such differences even exist. This “political correctness” amounted to a de facto policy of censorship that in turn led to the creation of terribly inaccurate analyses about those two’s relations in the Arab Republic. That’s thankfully beginning to change, however, after experts from the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) and the Institute for Iran-Eurasia Studies (IRAS) published a joint report last week titled “Russia and Iran in Syria and Beyond: Challenges Ahead”. This publication sends the message that it’s finally acceptable to publicly discuss their problems in Syria, especially Russia’s close relations with “Israel”, and will hopefully inspire more regular expert interactions on these issues.

Three Main Challenges

The 32-page document is much too detailed to concisely summarize so interested observers should read it in full at their convenience. For those who don’t have the time to do so, then the main point is that Russian-Iranian relations in Syria have thankfully shown more resilience than their critics expected, but some serious divergences remain despite several significant convergences. Both sides for the most part have shared views on multipolarity, anti-terrorism, and regional security, but they don’t see eye-to-eye when it comes to Syria’s ultimate political settlement, the countries participating in Syria’s reconstruction, and Russia’s excellent relations with “Israel”. These three issues serve as a major impediment to their closer coordination in that conflict, yet the Russian side seems to underestimate just how uncomfortable the last two issues make Iran feel. This is obvious after reading the report, which is divided into a jointly published introduction followed by a comprehensive elaboration of the Iranian and Russian points of view.

Sidestepping Iran’s Most Serious Concerns

The introduction admittedly acknowledges all three of these issues, including the threats that Iran feels from growing Gulf participation in Syria’s reconstruction process and its very deep suspicions that Russia secretly supports “Israel’s” regular strikes against it and its allies’ forces there, but the Russian experts don’t do much to address these concerns other than repeat the platitude that Russia’s intention to be an “honest broker” stabilizes regional affairs. Iran, meanwhile, didn’t shy away from sharing two particularly blunt assessments about Russian intentions in Syria. Their side wrote that “For Russia, which in some cases ignored Assad in the past, removing Assad and replacing him with a figure who does not have his problems, and yet preserves his legacy, is probably a better option” (than keeping him in office). They also condemned Russia’s close ties with “Israel” as “the only dark point in Iran-Russia relations in Syria.” Moreover, they questioned why Syria still hasn’t been able to use the much-vaunted S-300s that Russia dispatched in 2018 to defend it from “Israel”.

The China Factor

Another interesting point to take note of was Iran’s suggestion to include China in a forthcoming international conference on Syria’s reconstruction, the proposal of which was completely ignored by the Russian side which instead focused on the importance of securing Arab and European support instead. It might just be an innocent omission on Moscow’s part, but it could also possibly signal that the Eurasian Great Power wants to ensure that the People’s Republic doesn’t reap the economic dividends that Russian military power was responsible for creating. Russia might believe that it could “indirectly manage/supervise” Arab and European investments in Syria but might not be able to do so when it comes to Chinese ones, potentially losing control of the reconstruction process. From the Iranian perspective, China is a much more reliable investment partner for the Islamic Republic than Russia is, and Tehran might believe that including Beijing into this framework could lead to the eventual dilution of some of the more “politically unsavory” aspects of Moscow’s policies in Syria.

Quid Pro Quo

This interpretation of the implied messages that Iran seems to be sending through its joint publication with Russia isn’t just the author’s wild speculation like some critics might instinctively claim, but is actually a pretty accurate reflection of the intentions that the Russian side explicitly laid out in the text. Not only did it practically dismiss Iran’s concerns about their country’s relations with “Israel” apart from passively touching upon them in the jointly written introduction, but they also expressed frustration with Damascus over its “inflexibility” in their section on Russia’s viewpoints towards the conflict, thus hinting at a degree of unease over the Syrian leader’s uncompromising position on certain issues. Moreover, a Russian expert unambiguously wrote that “Russia has already made significant investments in Syria, and it needs to reap the economic benefits in the form of different contracts, access to resources, exploration of shale oil and gas off the Syrian coast”, thus making it clear that Moscow feels that it deserves to retain a privileged economic position in the Arab Republic.

The Ball’s In Damascus’ Court

These differences — for as important as they are — don’t seem to be insurmountable though and could be more effectively managed by Syria playing a larger role in balancing between its two top allies. President Assad doesn’t have to politically compromise for anyone, be it Russia or whoever else, no matter how difficult the circumstances have become. Damascus, however, also isn’t in a position to force Moscow to militarily take its side against Tel Aviv, but it can continue to expand its military ties with Tehran through the planned purchase of anti-air and other defense systems in order to boost its deterrence capabilities independently of Russia. Syria, which desperately needs as much reconstruction aid as possible, also probably won’t turn down any Gulf offers so long as there aren’t any political strings attached such as weakening its relations with Iran. What it can do, however, is directly reach out to China to include it in Iran’s proposed international conference on this topic in order to reassure the Islamic Republic that Damascus is listening to its concerns.

Concluding Thoughts

However one personally feels about the several key challenges to Russian-Iranian relations in Syria, the very fact that they’re being so frankly discussed at the highest levels of both countries’ academic communities shows that the prior taboo on publicly talking about them has finally been broken. Whether it’s Iranian experts’ speculation about Russia’s true stance towards President Assad’s political future and the imperfect nature of Moscow’s “balancing” act between their country and “Israel”, or Russia’s efforts “to ensure the actions of Damascus and Tehran are well-coordinated and do not sabotage Moscow’s initiatives” behind its back like one of its experts fears might be happening, everyone in the Alt-Media Community should now feel comfortable talking about these issues in the open. Ignoring these problems won’t make them go away; to the contrary, that previously implied policy of “political correctness” arguably made them much worse. Now that they’re being tackled head-on by Russian and Iranian experts, it’s time for everyone else to address them as well.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Tags: Russia, Syria, Iran, Assad, Israel, China, GCC, Balancing.


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Expert Analysis

Russian Influence In The Mediterranean Is Multipolar, Not Malign

Russian Influence In The Mediterranean Is Multipolar, Not Malign

17 DECEMBER 2020

Russian Influence In The Mediterranean Is Multipolar, Not Malign

US Secretary of State Pompeo’s misportrayal of Russian influence in the Mediterranean as malign is likely due to the fading unipolar hegemon’s fear of the growing multipolar impact that the Eurasian Great Power is having on regional affairs, and it also very conspicuously ignores the de-facto Russian-”Israeli” alliance which voices on both sides of the partisan aisle as well as the vast majority of the Alt-Media Community feel very uncomfortable discussing for vastly different reasons.

Malicious Accusations

America’s top diplomat claimed earlier this week that “Russia continues to threaten Mediterranean stability using a variety of techniques to spread disinformation, undermine national sovereignty, and sow chaos, conflict, and division within countries throughout the [Mediterranean].” Pompeo purported that the Eurasian Great Power’s enormous military support of the Syrian government in its anti-terrorist campaign was proof of this, as well as a diplomatic scandal in Greece a few years back, its diaspora’s financial connections with the region, and its reported mercenary-led intervention in Libya. In reality, however, Russia’s regional role is far from malign but actually represents the embodiment of irreversible multipolar trends, an observation which understandably upsets the fading unipolar hegemon. Moreover, Pompeo also conspicuously ignores the de-facto Russian-”Israeli” alliance which voices on both sides of the partisan aisle as well as the vast majority of the Alt-Media Community feel very uncomfortable discussing for vastly different reasons.

Setting The Record Straight

To briefly address each of his points, Russia’s anti-terrorist military intervention played a decisive role in defeating ISIS. In addition, the author earlier also drew attention two years ago to how “Russia’s Reshaping Syria’s ‘Deep State’ In Its Own Image”, specifically through one of its top think tank’s “recommendations” for security sector “reform” aimed at countering Iranian influence on that country’s armed forces, something which is being pursued independently of US interests but nevertheless dovetails with them. Secondly, the diplomatic scandal that Pompeo touched upon relates to Greece’s expulsion of Russian diplomats for supposedly trying to subvert the so-called “Prespes Agreement”that eventually made Macedonia the world’s first “politically correct” police state exactly as the author predicted, which they never attempted to do. Regarding its diaspora’s financial influence, there’s nothing wrong with this, and it in many ways compares to Western expats’ own. As for Libya, Russia is working closely with Turkey to stabilize the situation despite disagreements.

The Impact Of Multipolarity

The previously unforeseen and subsequently rapid expansion of Russian influence in the Mediterranean — greatly advanced by the newfound Russian-Turkish Strategic Partnership that rose in the wake of their regrettable November 2015 plane incident in Syria — has had the effect of facilitating the spread of multipolarity throughout the region. What’s meant by this is that the US’ unipolar hegemonic designs are being threatened by Russia’s emergence as a credible alternative to it in many respects, thus finally giving regional players someone else to rely upon instead of having to retain their former dependence on America for whatever their needs may be or oppose its aggression almost entirely alone (with Iran’s support to the Resistance being the notable exception). Where Russia doesn’t differ from the US, however, is with its de-facto alliance with “Israel”, which the author elaborated upon at length in his extensively researched piece for Global Research in September 2019 titled “Russia’s Middle East Strategy: ‘Balance’ vs. ‘Betrayal’?”.

Pompeo’s “Politically Correct” Omission

Although some differences still remain between these two strategic partners, notably in terms of the limits to their cooperation in Syria, they’re still largely on the same page in many respects as the cited Global Research analysis explains. This, however, is conspicuously ignored by Pompeo, his partisan opponents, and most of the Alt-Media Community, albeit for their own reasons. Neither America’s top diplomat nor his domestic enemies dare to draw attention to this after spending the past four years defaming Russia since they’re afraid that it would thus make their “Israeli” ally look bad by association. They’re also probably a bit jealous of how close President Putin and Netanyahu have become over the years, the resultant relationship of which the author describes with the portmanteau of “Putinyahu’s Rusrael”. “Israel”, long thought by some to be under the US’ influence, is actually impressively independent as far as cultivating its own strategic relations with Russia goes. These observations make Americans uncomfortable, hence why they choose not to publicly discuss them.

The Alt-Media Community’s Self-Censorship

As for the Alt-Media Community, most are zealously opposed to Zionism, so much so that their beliefs are practically dogmatic at this point. Every member has the right to hold whichever sentiments they want, but they’re unable to reconcile their anti-Zionism and Russophilia like the author explained in his Global Research analysis. This leads to what he described as the “freakish fusion” between the two whereby those who espouse these views cannot accept that President Putin is a proud philo-Semite who’s overseen his country’s de-facto alliance with “Israel”, something that he passionately defended back in September 2019 while speaking before the self-described “preeminent worldwide fundraising organization for Israel” and “fundraising arm of the Jewish People and the Zionist Movement”, the Keren Heyesod Foundation. Instead of supporting Russia on some issues while disagreeing with it on others such as this one for instance, they feel that no such balanced approach is possible, so they simply ignore the Russian-”Israeli” alliance because it’s “politically inconvenient”.

The Jewel In Russia’s Geopolitical Crown

Truth be told, however, this game-changing strategic partnership is actually the jewel in Russia’s geopolitical crown, and no serious discussion of its Mediterranean strategy is possible without focusing the majority of one’s analytical attention on it. However one personally feels about Russia’s extremely close ties with “Israel”, the fact of the matter is Moscow seeks to replace Washington as Tel Aviv’s top regional security partner. There are of course practical limits to how far Russia is willing to go in this regard, but there’s no denying that it successfully pushed Iranian forces back from the occupied Golan Heights in 2018 as publicly acknowledged by Russia’s own Defense Ministry and even passively facilitated “Israel’s” hundreds of strikes against the IRGC and Hezbollah in the Arab Republic by never interfering with them despite receiving advanced notice. These developments — and especially Russia not allowing Syria to use the S-300s to shoot down “Israeli” jets as the author analyzed at length here — helped “Israel’s” security interests much more than the US has in recent years.

Concluding Thoughts

It’s not the author’s intent to argue in support of or against Russia’s de-facto alliance with “Israel” since he respects the reader’s right to arrive at their own conclusions about this sensitive issue, but simply to remind everyone that this strategic partnerships exists and thus raise the “uncomfortable question” of why Pompeo, his domestic opponents, and the Alt-Media Community all fail to mention it when discussing the Eurasian Great Power’s growing influence in the Mediterranean. As it was provocatively described in the article, this is actually the jewel in Russia’s geopolitical crown, and it can also be said that “Israel” regards its privileged relationship with Russia as being a jewel in its own such crown as well. After all, everything that Russia has done for “Israel’s” regional security interests in recent years (particularly with respect to Syria) can’t help but be immensely appreciated by Tel Aviv, especially since it’s much more than its traditional American ally has done for it during the same time. It’s therefore impossible to discuss Mediterranean geopolitics without acknowleding that the de-facto Russian-”Israeli” alliance is one of its most prominent features.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Tags: Russia, Mediterranean, Turkey, Israel, Cyprus, Greece, Libya, Syria, Iran, Balancing, Putin, Netanyahu, Pompeo, US.


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