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Expert Analysis

What’s Everything That Biden & Putin Have To Discuss?

15 APRIL 2021

What

The American and Russian Presidents have a slew of issues to discuss in the event that they meet in person sometime in the coming future like Biden proposed doing during their last phone conversation, but the most important topics on the itinerary would arguably be strategic security and peacefully resolving the conflicts in Ukraine, Afghanistan, and Syria.

Biden-Putin Summit Plans

Russian-American tensions are at an historic high for the post-1991 period so it’s sensible that President Biden proposed to hold an in-person meeting with his Russian counterpart during their last phone conversation in order “to discuss the full range of issues” facing their countries. The most important topics on the itinerary would arguably be strategic security and peacefully resolving the long-running conflicts in Afghanistan, Syria, and Ukraine, but other issues would of course also be brought up. What follows is a list of the most pressing problems between these two Great Powers in the order of their significance. Each point includes a summary of their respective positions and what a compromise might look like if one’s realistically possible:

Strategic Security

The White House’s readout of their call noted “the intent of the United States and Russia to pursue a strategic stability dialogue on a range of arms control and emerging security issues, building on the extension of the New START Treaty”, which was reflected by the Kremlin also referencing “strategic stability and arms control”. Both countries therefore share the common desire to build upon the New START Treaty’s last-minute extension in February, though it’s unclear in what direction this might go. The prior US administration demanded that China join all such forthcoming talks while Russia respects Beijing’s right not to do so. The ideal scenario would be if all relevant powers made proportionate cuts to their pertinent arsenals, but that might not be realistic.

Ukraine

This hot button issue concerns more than just politically resolving the Eastern European country’s civil war in line with the Minsk Accords that US-backed Kiev has thus far refused to implement despite previously agreeing to them. It also involves NATO’s aggressive forward posturing in the region and its support for Ukraine’s anti-Russian activities, including against Crimea. The situation is so tense at the moment that a war might even break out before the Russian and American leaders meet, with the subsequently feared brinksmanship potentially serving as the reason to expedite their summit plans. The best-case scenario would be if the US assesses the seriousness of the situation and finally pressures Kiev to implement the Minsk Accords.

Afghanistan

The Kremlin’s readout reported “the situation in Afghanistan”, which was missing from the White House’s, but this issue will likely be at the fore of their discussions considering that the US plans to fully withdraw from that country by 9/11 this year. Both Great Powers have recently seen their positions converge insofar as supporting an inclusive transitional government in which the officially terrorist-designated Taliban participates as the only pragmatic political outcome of the conflict. The challenge is that the Taliban reacted negatively to the US’ announcement that it’ll miss its originally scheduled deadline for withdrawing by 1 May, so it remains to be seen whether the fragile ceasefire between those two holds long enough for the meeting to occur.

Syria

Syria didn’t warrant a mention on either government’s readout so it’s unclear whether it was brought up during their last discussion, but it’s nevertheless a major issue between them that can’t be ignored. The US retains occupation forces in the northeast beyond the de facto “internal partition” line of the Euphrates River, and its widely reported support of terrorist forces in the country is a major impediment to the conflict’s resolution. Moreover, the US’ political proxies have hitherto obstructed the parallel peace processes, so something must be done in order to make progress on these tracks. The only realistic compromise would be “decentralization” and Damascus requesting Iran’s dignified but phased withdrawal from the country, but the latter still seems unlikely.

China

The US is slowly realizing that it made a major mistake by triggering Russia’s historical siege mentality, pushing it closer to China in response, and provoking Moscow to actively seek Washington’s containment all across the world. Even a simple thought exercise embracing the US’ infamous zero-sum outlook on International Relations suggests that this works out to America’s grand strategic disadvantage while being one of the best-ever scenarios for China. Accordingly, Biden’s team might attempt to court Russia into reversing its recent American-provoked foreign policy pivot so as to restore Moscow’s traditional “balancing” act between East and West, but this outcome is only possible in the event credible progress is made on a “New Detente”.

Iran

The Islamic Republic’s nuclear program is another major issue of disagreement between the US and Russia, but one which also attracts their interest more than ever after Iran recently clinched a 25-year strategic partnership deal with China. That agreement stands the chance to revolutionize the greater region’s geostrategic situation through the expansion of Beijing’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) to West Asia via W-CPEC+, which was an unexpected game-changing development that seemingly caught both the US and Russia off guard. Not only will they seek to address the immediate nuclear-related issue, but they might also discuss ways to manage this new regional geostrategic reality, perhaps in an indirectly joint way if they make progress on a “New Detente”.

Palestine

The so-called “Mideast Peace Process” (MEPP) is also an area of mutual concern for Russia and the US. Both Great Powers are also allied with “Israel” to different extents, with Russia’s largely under-discussed relationship being the result of skillful policymaking at the presidential level through Putin’s personal diplomacy with his close friend Prime Minister Netanyahu (background context herehereherehere, and here). Since Biden is attempting to balance the US’ regional relationships a bit more than Trump did, it’s possible that he’ll walk back his predecessor’s so-called “Deal of the Century” and thus help pave the way for his country and Russia to jointly herald at least the symbolic creation of a Palestinian state, though it’ll still take a while for this to occur.

Russiagate/Navalny/Climate

Biden will almost certainly bring up the discredited Russiagate conspiracy theory due to domestic pressure from his base. This speculative aspect of their discussion would be entirely symbolic since it’s what many have rightly called a “nothingburger”. It’ll only be talked about for appearance’s sake, the same as Navalny‘s imprisonment might too if that’s even brought up that is. As for climate change, this is a “neutral” means through which the two could at least superficially cooperate more closely and result in a semi-tangibly positive outcome to their planned summit. Both of their leaders agree on the need to thwart this threat, but there really isn’t much that they can do together. Still, it could make for some good headlines if they release a joint statement about it.


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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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Geopolitics

MIDDLE EAST:

ISRAEL/PALESTINE:

  • Israel announces new illegal settler homes in occupied West Bank, in last days of Trump’s presidency. Palestinian officials and much of the international community view them as the main obstacle to a viable two-state solution.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA


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MIDDLE EAST:

ISRAEL/PALESTINE:

  • Foreign ministers of Egypt, Germany, France and Jordan discussed ways to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, a week before President-elect Joe Biden takes office. The Palestinians suffered numerous setbacks under the outgoing administration of President Donald Trump and have complained about what they say were pro-Israeli steps from Washington.

SOURCE: DAILY MAIL


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Expert Analysis

Western Sahara Is Extremely Important For The Anti-Imperialist Cause

Western Sahara Is Extremely Important For The Anti-Imperialist Cause

16 DECEMBER 2020

Western Sahara Is Extremely Important For The Anti-Imperialist Cause

Most folks never heard about Western Sahara until Trump unilaterally recognized Morocco’s claims to this disputed region of the Maghreb last week in exchange for it agreeing to a peace deal with “Israel”, but it’s actually extremely important for the anti-imperialist cause since its standing is similar to Palestine and Kashmir’s in the eyes of international law.

Trump’s unilateral recognition of Morocco’s claims to the disputed Maghreb region of Western Sahara in exchange for Rabat formalizing its long-held and not-so-secret ties with Tel Aviv caught many observers by surprise who previously weren’t familiar with this unresolved conflict. Palestine and Kashmir are much more globally prominent because of the involvement of nuclear powers and the efforts of some to focus more on the inter-religious optics of these conflicts than their international legal origins. Western Sahara satisfies neither of those two “exciting” criteria, hence why it’s largely been forgotten about by most of the world since the issue first came to the fore of international politics in the mid-1970s.

Francoist Spain’s “decolonization” process saw the totalitarian country refuse to grant independence to the Western Sahara, instead dividing it between neighboring Morocco and Mauritania against the wishes of the indigenous Sahrawi people as represented by the Polisario Front. This group in turn proclaimed the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic with the support of neighboring Algeria, which has an historic rivalry with Morocco and was also sympathetic to socialist causes such as this one during the Old Cold War. Mauritania eventually abandoned its claims to the disputed region, and after over a decades’ worth of fighting, Morocco and the Western Sahara reached a UN-backed agreement in 1991 to hold a referendum on the region’s political status.

The vote never took place since the two warring sides couldn’t agree on who’s eligible to vote, with the primary problem being Morocco’s insistence on letting settlers participate. Western Sahara is also de-facto divided by a sand wall that the occupying army built to solidify its control over approximately 80% of the territory. With Trump’s unilateral recognition of Rabat’s claim to the entire region (which might eventually be followed by others such as “Israel”), as well as his government’s subsequent decision to move forward with a $1 billion arms deal, it’s extremely unlikely that last month’s end of the 29-year ceasefire will result in any serious gains being made by the Polisario Front.

Russia denounced the US’ political decision as illegal under international law, which is an entirely accurate assessment, but this isn’t expected to have any tangible effect on altering the conflict’s dynamics. Only Algeria could potentially have an impact, but its ongoing domestic political problems over nearly the past two years have forced it to suddenly look inward instead of continue with its traditional policy of presenting itself as a regional leader. Moreover, the US’ planned arms deal might ultimately shift the regional balance of power in a decisive way, especially if “Israel” gets involved too, or at the very least spark a new arms race between Morocco and Algeria as the latter looks to Russia and China for more military support in response.

Amidst all of this, anti-imperialists shouldn’t ever forget the international legal importance of the Western Saharan cause. However one feels about the legitimacy of either side’s claims in the conflict, it’s nevertheless a UNSC-recognized dispute that’s supposed to be resolved by a referendum. The precedent of the US unilaterally abandoning its international legal obligations is disturbing and arguably also destabilizing, though it’s obviously doing this in pursuit of its own national interests as it subjectively understands them. The problem, however, is that this might embolden other claimants over different UNSC-recognized disputed territories across the world to double down on their maximalist positions, thus making it much more difficult to resolve those issues.

Another important point is that international law exists not solely for “moral” reasons like its most passionate supporters claim (since it’s obviously imperfect), but for practical ones related to the necessity of having predictable means to resolve international disputes in order to avoid unintentional escalations that could quickly evolve into larger and more uncontrollable conflicts. Unilateral maximalist claims by one party are troublesome, but they become even worse when they’re supported by self-interested external actors who might also have an ulterior motive to divide and rule the region in question like the US clearly does in the Maghreb, Mideast, and South Asia regarding Western Sahara, Palestine, and Kashmir.

The Western Saharan cause is therefore inextricable from the Palestinian and Kashmiri ones in the eyes of international law, which is why supporters of those two should stand in solidarity with their Sahrawi counterparts. The issue can only legally be settled by a referendum according to the UNSC regardless of one’s personal views towards the conflict, but since that has yet to happen and might very well never occur after Trump’s combined diplomatic-military support for Morocco’s claims gives Rabat no incentive to comply, observers can’t help but be concerned. The only way to remain consistent with supporting Palestine and Kashmir is to support Western Sahara’s UNSC-recognized right to a referendum.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Tags: Morocco, Western Sahara, Israel, Palestine, Kashmir, US, North Africa, Maghreb, Trump.


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Middle East

MIDDLE EAST

SYRIA-PALESTINE/ISRAEL: Mike Pompeo visits Golan Heights and West Bank settlement, in a provocative act before U.S. President Donald Trump leaves his post. Syria and Palestine condemned the visit. Palestinians and Arab states said the move would help cement Israeli control over occupied territory.

SOURCES: REUTERS – SKY

 

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terrorism

Middle East

MIDDLE EAST

  • ISRAEL: The Israeli army went on high alert over a possible escalation with the Gaza Strip sparked by the one-year anniversary of the killing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad commander Baha Abu al-Atta. The Israeli fears of an escalation came despite the existence of a truce sponsored by Qatar in Gaza. Israel says the ceasefire agreement is fragile.

SOURCE: ASHARQ AL-AWSAT

 

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GGN-Middle East

MIDDLE EAST

UAE and Bahrain sign normalization deal with Israel at White House. The agreement merely formalized ties between the nations that had been thawing anyway, and that all three share an interest in opposing Iran’s influence in the region. Iran, Turkey and Palestinian authorities have condemned the agreements. Saudi Arabia issued a statement supporting the Palestinian position.

SOURCE: DW

 

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GGN-Middle East

MIDDLE EAST

  • Prompted by Arab states normalising relations with Israel (see GGN August-September 2020), fractured Palestinian political factions are working diligently in multilateral talks to restore unity. Palestinian groups led by Hamas and Fatah agreed on a “unified field leadership” that will lead “comprehensive popular resistance” against the Israeli occupation.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA

 

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Anti-Goverment Protests

Palestine

PALESTINE

  • Palestinian leaders on Sunday called for protests against the “shameful” deals the UAE and Bahrain are set to sign with Israel (see also GGN September-August 2020).

SOURCE: GLOBAL TIMES

 

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