IRAN: A senior Iranian expert specialized in nuclear technology was assassinated in a terrorist attack while travelling in a vehicle about 40 kilometers northeast of Tehran. His killing is the highest-profile death of an Iranian official since the assassination of General Soleimani by the US in Iraq. Israel is suspected of the assassination or the Top Iranian nuclear scientist.
What Kind Of Secretary Of State Might Antony Blinken Be?
25 NOVEMBER 2020
While Pompeo is brash, Blinken is humble, and this key difference might play a leading role in repairing America’s damaged reputation abroad after the past four years of current US President Trump’s bombastic foreign policy statements. Nevertheless, this impression shouldn’t be taken to mean that Blinken isn’t decisive.
Democrat presidential candidate and popularly projected winner of this month’s elections Joe Biden announced that he’ll nominate his close advisor Antony Blinken as the US’ next Secretary of State. Blinken is a veteran Democrat expert in the foreign policy field who comes from a family of diplomats. He previously served as Biden’s National Security Advisor when he was Vice-President as well as Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor and Deputy Secretary of State. The tremendous experience that Blinken will bring to a possible Biden Administration means that the world can expect a return to the US’ Obama-era foreign policy.
Media reports indicate that his personality is the complete opposite of current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. While Pompeo is brash, Blinken is humble, and this key difference might play a leading role in repairing America’s damaged reputation abroad after the past four years of current US President Trump’s bombastic foreign policy statements. Nevertheless, this impression shouldn’t be taken to mean that Blinken isn’t decisive. Other reports claim that he was in favor of former President Obama bombing Syria during the 2013 chemical weapons crisis, and former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul revealed some other interesting details.
According to the Financial Times in their article titled “Biden’s ‘alter ego’ Antony Blinken tipped for top foreign policy job”, McFaul said that Blinken was part of a secretive group of Democrats called the “Phoneix Initiative”. The former ambassador claimed that they began assembling in 2004 after former Democrat presidential candidate Kerry’s loss to incumbent President Bush Jr. Their debates allegedly consisted of passionate arguments in support of more robust national security strategies, including Blinken advocating very strongly for “human rights” according to McFaul.
This correlates with the US’ Obama-era foreign policy of supporting Color Revolutions and so-called “humanitarian interventions” across the world in countries as diverse as Ukraine and Libya respectively under such pretexts. Observers might thus be worried that these policies could repeat themselves under a possible Biden Presidency, which could in turn be destabilizing for Eastern Europe and the Mideast, especially if those aforesaid processes were weaponized for the purpose of geopolitically containing Russia and Iran. It’s too early to tell whether that’ll be the case, but it’s worth noting nonetheless.
Blinken was also critical of Russia over the past few years and even dramatically claimed in 2017 that “The president’s ongoing collusion with Russia’s plans is really striking, intentional or not.” It’s therefore unlikely that he’ll oversee any improvement of relations with Russia, which is worrisome because the two nuclear powers should renegotiate a new strategic weapons treaty after the New START expires early next year. Failing to do so for reasons possibly related to Blinken’s groundless suspicions of then-former President Trump’s relations with Russia (which were never proven despite several years of investigations) would worsen global insecurity.
On the topic of Iran, however, he seems to be much more pragmatic. Blinken supported the 2015 nuclear deal and would likely see the US attempt to return to it under a possible Biden presidency. While that might repair American-Iranian relations, it could also inadvertently worsen the US’ historical ties with Israel and Saudi Arabia, both of which are totally against the agreement. Still, it would represent a symbolic return to the UN-enshrined rules-based order if Blinken were to oversee the US’ return to that pact. Thus far, it can be concluded that he’d probably be harder on Russia but more flexible with Iran, but his stance towards China is unclear.
The same earlier cited Financial Times piece reported that Blinken told an interviewer during a recent podcast that “the US had to rebuild alliances to tackle the ‘democratic recession’ enabled by Mr Trump that let ‘autocracies from Russia to China . . . exploit our difficulties’.” This suggests that he might share some of his predecessor’s suspicions of China and thus be less pragmatic towards it than some had initially hoped after first hearing that Biden was projected by the media to be the next President-Elect. His ideological views towards governance hint that he might even try to strengthen the US’ regional alliances on a “democratic” basis.
It can only be hoped that Blinken wouldn’t let his personal opinions blind him to the fact that the US has no choice but to pragmatically cooperate with China despite those two countries’ different governing systems. Seeing the world in black-and-white terms of us-versus-them with respect to democracies versus what he regards as autocracies would be the wrong way to approach relations with the People’s Republic. It might even result in a possible Biden Administration ruining the chance to enter into a comprehensive rapprochement with China towards what some have predicted could even become a New Detente between the two if successful.
IRAQ-SAUDI ARABIA: Iraq and Saudi Arabia have reopened their land border, 30 years after the Gulf War prompted its closure, showing closer ties between the two countries, likely to irk Riyadh’s rival Tehran.
REGIONAL: Elliott Abrams, US special representative for Iran and Venezuela, has called for greater cooperation among Middle East countries to counter the threat from Iran. Abrams wants to see greater cooperation between the US and Saudi Arabia as well as the Kingdom and its neighbors, as happened recently between Israel and the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan. Claim that cooperation among Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries is essential.
Russia & Turkey Stand To Lose The Most From A Biden Presidency
9 NOVEMBER 2020
In the event that Biden’s “projected” presidency become a reality, Russia and Turkey would stand to lose the most during America’s new era of engagement with the world due to the former Vice President’s intense dislike of the Eurasian Great Power and the regional consequences that his possible return to the Iranian nuclear deal could have for Ankara’s grand strategy.
Multilateralism Doesn’t Mean That Everyone Wins
Analysts are scrambling to predict what American foreign policy might look like under a possible Biden presidency in the event that his “projected” (but crucially, not yet legally certified) victory becomes a reality. It’s already known that he intends to return to the Obama-era strategy of multilateral engagement and will probably appoint many officials from that former administration or at the very least those who’ve been tremendously influenced by them. There’s also little doubt that the US’ de-facto military alliance with India will remain intact considering the bipartisan consensusregarding its grannd strategic importance. Nevertheless, although it’s still a bit early to make any confident predictions, it can be argued that Russia and Turkey will probably stand to lose the most from a Biden presidency for reasons that will now be explained.
Political Russophobes Return To The White House
Regarding the Eurasian Great Power, it has legitimate concerns about the political Russophobia of former Obama-era officials. The (soon-to-be-former?) opposition spent the past four years concocting one of the craziest conspiracy theories in modern history by imagining that Trump was secretly an agent — or at the very least, an asset — of none other than President Putin himself. These dangerous allegations have since been officially debunked, but their destructive impact on bilateral relations will persist for the indefinite future. The anti-Russian members of the US’ permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) which literally conspired with theirDemocratand Mainstream Media proxies to delegitimize and subsequently subvert Trump’s presidency have no interest in a rapprochement with Russia.
A Strategically Convenient “New Detente” With China?
To the contrary, they’ve signaled every interest in clinching a “New Detente” with China instead through a series of pragmatic compromises on a slew of issues such as trade, military, and technological ones for instance. This isn’t just for pragmatic reasons, but clever geostrategic ones related to freeing up the US’ full potential to more assertively “contain” Russia for the ideological reasons that drive Obama-era officials and those influenced by them. Should this scenario come to pass, then Russia would come under unprecedented pressure along its western flank, building upon the military advances along its borders that were overseen by Trump but aggressively solidifying and possibly even expanding them. Being in the midst of a systemic economic transition away from its disproportionate budgetary dependence on resource revenue, Russia is presently real vulnerable.
Russia’s Most Vulnerable Moment
The next year or two is therefore the best possible time for the US to put maximum pressure upon it for the purpose of compelling it to agree to a lopsided “New Detente” which could foreseeably result in a so-called “new normal” of relations between the West and Russia. The intent, however, is to subjugate Russia to America’s military will, which is understandably more difficult to pull off than the political Russophobes might imagine considering Moscow’s recent advances inhypersonic missile technologywhich restored the nuclear balance between the former superpowers. Still, all that Russia has done was buy itself some more time while it sought to domestically restructure all aspects of its society while the US was distracted with “containing” China under Trump, but now the pendulum might swing back against Russia with a vengeance under Biden.
Strengthening The Regional Anti-Turkish “Containment” Coalition
On the topic of Turkey, it’s also expected that this country will stand to lose from a possible Biden presidency. The US’ strategy of assembling a regional anti-Turkish “containment” coalition between itself, Armenia, Cyprus, Egypt, France, the GCC, Greece, “Israel”, and even Syria to an extent will likely remain in place, as will its use of more subversive measures such as economic warfare and even coup plotting in order to “finish the job” that Obama failed to do during thesummer 2016 coup attemptagainst President Erdogan. Just as importantly, however, are the regional consequences that the US’ possible return to the Iranian nuclear deal could have for Ankara’s grand strategy since they could result in it and Tehran drifting apart after their recent rapprochement.
The Turkish-Iranian Strategic Partnership
About that, these neighboring Islamic civilizations are presently enjoying some of their best-ever relations after the failed summer 2016 coup attempt saw Iranbecome the first countryto publicly support Turkey’s legitimate government against the plotters. This wasn’t only for pragmatic reasons regarding the rule of law and international norms, but also ideological ones as well since Turkish society has been gradually Islamifying under President Erdogan’s rule in ways which align with Iran’s ideal vision for the region’s societies. Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran saw the Islamic Republic move much closer to Turkey for the purpose of much-needed sanctions relief, which in turn resulted in them agreeing onAzerbaijanandLibyadespite Iran’s Syrian ally having a different position towards those two conflicts to the surprise of theAlt-Media Community.
As Iran began to rely more on Turkey, so too did Turkey began to rely on Iran, thus establishing a relationship of mutual strategic interdependence. Where Iran sees Turkey as a pressure valve from sanctions, Turkey regards Iran as an indispensably influential regional partner which helps hold back the emerging US-led anti-Turkish “containment” coalition. Nevertheless, if a breakthrough is reached on the US returning to the Iranian nuclear deal, then there’s a credible chance that their mutual strategic interdependence might eventually weaken and the two countries could gradually “decouple” with time. That would place Turkey in a very disadvantageous regional position, but one which could interestingly improve its already solid relations with Russia so long as both have the political will to do so.
Could The Russian-Turkish Strategic Partnership Transform Into An Unofficial Alliance?
The analysis has thus far argued that Russia and Turkey will lose the most from a Biden presidency, but the proverbial silver lining is that they’d have more of a reason than ever to strengthen their cooperation with one another in response. In fact, should similar pressure be placed upon them in a semi-coordinated manner, they might naturally move a lot closer together. Issues of occasional discord such as differences of vision over certain conflicts might remain, but they wouldn’t be insurmountable and in fact might be more easily resolved in the event that they enter into a stronger relationship of mutual strategic interdependence which might even eventually become an unofficial alliance. The exact contours of such a scenario are difficult to forecast at this point, but the possibility itself shouldn’t be discounted for the earlier mentioned reasons.
While many across the world are celebrating what they’ve been (mis?)led to believe is Trump’s impending ouster from the White House, it’s all but certain that Russia and Turkey are fretting over what might come next if Biden is able to execute on his regional vision of repairing relations with China, doubling down on the US’ anti-Russian and -Turkish pressure campaigns, and returning to the Iranian nuclear deal. Taken together, these variables could prove extremely troublesome for their grand strategies, but might also present an opportunity for these two Great Powers to work more closely together in the future. Having said all of that, nothing’s set in stone of course and a Biden presidency might end up surprising a lot of observers just like the Trump one did in some respects, but it’ll still likely be difficult for either Russia or Turkey to secure their interests during this time.
VENEZUELA:Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrived in Venezuela to deep their strategic alliance. Tehran has become a crucial ally for Caracas as Washington tightens sanctions meant to force Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro from power. The visit to Venezuela is the start of a Latin American tour that will also take him to Cuba and Bolivia.
U.S. unveils more sanctions on Iran, including sanctions for Iranian oil sales. The sanctions are part of a maximum pressure campaign that so far has failed to achieve its goal of getting Iran to halt its missile development program and stop supporting militant groups in the region.
Hezbollah -Iran’s main proxy and ally in Lebanon– has condemned that Israel and Sudan normalized ties. Incite the Sudanese against the current government and seeks Sudanese people to get them to protest any normalization with Israel. Iran has done the same threatening Bahrain and the UAE.
The Sudanese-‘Israeli’ Peace Deal Required Lots Of Behind-The-Scenes Maneuvering
29 OCTOBER 2020
The Sudanese-”Israeli” peace deal isn’t a spontaneous act of reconciliation like it’s misportrayed by some as being but the result of lots of behind-the-scenes maneuvering including last year’s military coup and recent reports that Saudi Arabia will secretly pay Sudan’s agreed-upon $335 million in compensation to US victims of terrorism.
The Road To Recognition
Sudan, which was once ruled by one of the most anti-Zionist governments in the world, announced that it’ll normalize “relations” with “Israel” following the planned signing of a US-brokered peace dealbetween the two decades-long foes. This wasn’t a spontaneous act of reconciliation like it’s misportrayed by some as being but the result of lots of behind-the-scenes maneuvering over the past few years. It’s important to trace the sequence of events in order to obtain a better understanding of how something as significant as this development came about. It wasn’t by any means an impulsive decision, but one that was at least several years in the making and entirely the result of external meddling into Sudanese affairs.
The Yemen Factor
Former President Bashir was deposed in amilitary couplast year during large-scale protests reportedly as a result of his armed forces’ refusal to use violent force for dispersing the increasingly riotous unrest. Prior to that “deep state”-driven regime change, the country had gradually aligned itself with the GCC throughout the course of its ongoing War on Yemen, having previously been more closely affiliated with Iran in the years prior. The North African state’s “pariah” status due to its earlier hosting of Osama Bin Laden and support of militant anti-Zionist causes abroad gave it few options other than partnering with the Islamic Republic and China. The War on Yemen, however, was the cynical “opportunity” to change all of that, or so President Bashir thought.
The large-scale dispatch of Sudanese troops and mercenaries to the conflict zone coincided with the countrycutting its tieswith Iran in January 2016, after which it was for all intents and purposes under the GCC’s near-total influence. The period from that moment until the military coup can be interpreted in hindsight as the time when that not-so-secretly-”Israeli”-backed military bloc extended its sway throughout the country, relying on its newfound leverage over the powerful armed forces. This set the stage for the regime change that would later follow and subsequently transform Sudan into a GCC protectorate for lack of a better description. Its new GCC-allied military leadership then began to seriously consider “normalizing” ties with “Israel” in earnest.
The stumbling block to the country’s removal from international isolation has always been its designation by the US as a so-called “state sponsor of terrorism”. Former President Bashir mistakenly thought that this could be nixed in exchange for contributing so much to the GCC’s War on Yemen, yet that never materialized since the real quid pro quo was recognition of “Israel”, which would have generated even more serious unrest than the anti-government protests that uncontrollably spread throughout the country in spring 2019. For that reason, the former leaderrefusedto take such a fateful step, though it was ultimately his undoing since he might have been able to secure the military’s loyalty in the face of those regime change riots had he done so.
The GCC’s “Deep State” Scheme
The only way for him to have politically survived that unrest would have been for the military to support his reported decision to use lethal force in quelling them. They didn’t though, not because they sympathized with the protesters, but because they were no longer loyal to the country’s internationally recognized leader due to the massive inroads that the “Israeli”-backed GCC made in flipping this “deep state” institution against him over the preceding years. It wasn’t actually former President Bashir’s decision to make upon thinking about it, but the GCC’s, and they needed him removed in order to advance the “deal of the century”.
It’s unclear whether or not they played a role in inciting the regime change unrest at the time, but they almost certainly ensured that it wouldn’t be quelled by the armed forces that were more loyal to the GCC than to former President Bashir. Upon his removal, the military leadership then sought to recognize “Israel” with the GCC’s support, but Sudan first had to be removed from the US’ “state sponsors of terrorism” list, which is where Saudi Arabia comes in. Although the UAE is arguably the stronger of the two GCC leaders right now, Saudi Arabia still regards itself as the bloc’s “big brother”, which might be why reports have recently circulated that it offered to pay Sudan’s agreed-upon $335 million compensation to US victims of terrorism and their families.
Although it can’t be known for certain, those reports certainly seem credible since Sudan is among the world’s most impoverished nations and couldn’t realistically afford to pay such an enormous sum without some sort of secret support. Iran described the planned payment as a “ransom” to be taken off of the US’ “state sponsors of terrorism” list, which is actually a pretty accurate description even though it seems like it’s Saudi Arabia that’ll end up paying this fee instead of Sudan. Some Sudanese seem to agree with this assessment as evidenced by former Prime Minister Mahdi’scondemnationof it. His criticism is notable since he currently heads the country’s largest political party and presumably reflects popular sentiment in this respect.
The American Agenda
Without paying this “ransom” (regardless of whoever ultimately foots the bill), Sudan would never have been taken off the US’ list, which in turn would have created uncomfortable optics for “Israel” if a state regarded by the American government as a “state sponsor of terrorism” officially recognized it. For this reason, it can be surmised that the real quid pro quo was recognition of “Israel” by the post-coup military authorities in exchange for Saudi Arabia secretly paying its agreed-upon compensation, with the end result being thedeepening of the “Israeli”-GCC axis’ influencein a geostrategic part of Africa. From an American perspective, this is the ideal outcome since it satisfies all of the US’ interests.
A former leader who had previously partnered with Iran was removed under the pretext of a “patriotic” military “restoring democracy” in accordance with the “people’s will”, which thus provides the cover for it go against the legitimate will of the people by subsequently recognizing “Israel”. The protests that this move might provoke could easily be put down by the “democratic military” with lethal force like they could have done in spring 2019 when confronted with the regime change riots but instead chose not to do out of loyalty to their “Israeli”-backed GCC patrons. Back then without any public decision to recognize “Israel”, it would have been condemned by the West as a crime against humanity, yet now it canbe ignoredor even justified by them.
The lessons to be learned from this are several. The first is that authoritarian states (the objective description of which shouldn’t be interpreted as expressing any value judgement) are most easily influenced through their “deep states”, particularly their military and intelligence factions. Second, economically desperate states impoverished by years of intense sanctions might try to break their “isolation” by participating in foreign military adventures, which in turn inadvertently leads to their “deep states” being co-opted by their newfound “partners”. Third, this external meddling can be exploited during times of national crisis to encourage regime change which finally leads to the targeted state coming under the full control of a foreign government.
Looking forward, this model could realistically be repeated elsewhere across the world, but that doesn’t mean that it’ll always succeed. Former President Bashir’s biggest mistake was thinking that allying with the “Israeli”-backed GCC would eventually provide an exit from international “isolation”. What he should have instead done was double down on relations with China while staying out of the War on Yemen. Even if he still went through with cutting off ties with Iran as a “goodwill gesture” towards the GCC, he could have still retained enough strategic autonomy through an enhanced partnership with China to remain in office, deliver economic benefits to his people, and enable Sudan to retain its de-facto independence instead of become someone else’s proxy.