Ukraine: The waiting game

Pepe Escobar

Everything one needs to know about mediocre political elites allegedly representing the "values" of Western civilization has been laid bare by their reaction to the referendums in Donetsk and Lugansk.

The referendums may have been a last-minute affair; organized in a rush; in the middle of a de facto civil war; and on top of it at gunpoint - supplied by the Kiev NATO neo-liberal neo-fascist junta, which even managed to kill some voters in Mariupol. An imperfect process? Yes. But absolutely perfect in terms of graphically depicting a mass movement in favor of self-rule and political independence from Kiev.

This was direct democracy in action; no wonder the US State Department hated it with a vengeance.[1]

Turnout was huge. The landslide victory for independence was out of the question. Same for transparency; a public vote, in glass ballot boxes, with monitoring provided by Western journalists - mostly from major German media but also from the Kyodo News Agency or the Washington Post.

What should come after the Donetsk People's Republic proclaimed itself a sovereign state, and asked Moscow to consider its accession into Russia, is not secession, nor outright civil war, but a negotiation. That's clear by the Kremlin's measured official reaction: "Moscow respects the will of the people in Donetsk and Lugansk and hopes that the practical realization of the outcome of the referendums will be carried out in a civilized manner."

The cautious tone is also reflected by the Kremlin urging the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to help broker the negotiation. Yet once again, there's concrete proof that the NATO neo-liberal neo-fascist junta does not want to negotiate anything. Farcical "acting" President Oleksandr Turchynov labeled the exercise in direct democracy a "farce, which terrorists call the referendum"; and Washington and Brussels branded it "illegal".


Asia will not 'isolate' Russia

Pepe Escobar


U.S. President Barack Obama, center, listens to Rijksmuseum
director Wim Pijbes, seen from the back, in front of Dutch master
Rembrandt's The Night Watch painting during a visit to the Rijks-
museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Monday. Obama will attend
the two-day Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague.

Any (bureaucratic) doubts the New Cold War is on have been dispelled by the Group of Seven issuing a pompous, self-described Hague Declaration. Abandon all hope those who expected The Hague to become the seat of a tribunal judging the war crimes of the Cheney regime.

The G-7 also cancelled its upcoming summer summit in Sochi as a means of "punishing" Moscow over Crimea. As if this carried any practical value. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov responded with class; if you don't want us, we have better things to do. [1] Everyone knows the G-7 is an innocuous, self-important talk shop. It's in the G-20 - much more representative of the real world - where crucial geopolitical and geoeconomic issues gain traction.

The Hague Declaration comes complete with the kiss of death, as in, "The International Monetary Fund has a central role leading the international effort to support Ukrainian reform, lessening Ukraine's economic vulnerabilities, and better integrating the country as a market economy in the multilateral system." That's code for "wait till structural adjustment starts biting".

And then there will be "measures to enhance trade and strengthen energy security" - code for "we will destroy your industry" but "are not very keen on paying your humongous Gazprom bill".

All this in the sidelines of a supposed summit on nuclear security in the Netherlands, where US President Barack Obama, at the Rijksmuseum, in front of Rembrandt's The Night Watch, extolled Washington's "support of the Ukrainian government and Ukrainian people". Rembrandt's watchers have never seen anything like it in their glorious lifespan. It pays to be a Nazi after all; you just need to be in the right government, against the right enemy, and fully approved by the hyper-power.


Will NATO annex Ukraine?

Pepe Escobar


Anti-government protesters carry an injured man on a stretcher
in Independence Square in Kiev February 20, 2014.

Anyone who believes Washington is deeply enamored of ‘democracy’ in Ukraine must hit eBay, where Saddam Hussein’s WMDs have been found, and are on sale to the highest bidder.

Or pay attention to the non-denial denials of the Obama administration, which swears on a daily basis there’s no ‘proxy war’ or Cold War redux in Ukraine.

In a nutshell; Washington’s bipartisan Ukraine policy has always been anti-Moscow. That implies regime change whenever necessary. As the European Union (EU), geopolitically, is nothing but an annex to NATO, what matters is NATO extending its borders to the Ukraine. Or at least Western Ukraine – which would be a valuable consolation prize.

This is a purely military-centric game – the logic of the whole mechanism ultimately decided in Washington, not in Brussels. It’s about NATO expansion, not ‘democracy’. When neo-con State Department functionary Victoria Nuland had her 15 seconds of fame recently, what she actually meant was “We’re NATO, F**k the EU.” No wonder there will be an urgent NATO Defense Ministers meeting in Brussels on Wednesday, centered on Ukraine.

No one will ever read that in US corporate media – or in academia for that matter. Harvard Professor Francis Boyle talking to Voice of Russia, or Princeton’s Stephen Cohen in a recent article for the Nation, are glaring exceptions.

Every informed analyst knows the mastermind of this ‘policy’, since the 1970s, is Zbigniew ‘The Grand Chessboard’ Brzezinski. Dr. Zbig was US President Barack Obama’s mentor at Columbia and is the Talleyrand of the Obama administration’s foreign policy machine.

He may have softened up a notch recently, arguing that although the US must remain the supreme power across Eurasia, Russia and Turkey must be seduced by the West. Yet his historic Russophobia was never diluted.


The Wahhabi-Likudnik war of terror

Pepe Escobar


Former Saudi ambassador Prince Turki bin Faisal al Saud
confers with Israeli strategic affairs analyst Yossi Alpher
at the National Iranian American Council conference in
Washington, Oct. 15, 2013. (NIAC)
(CCJN)

The double suicide bombing targeting the Iranian embassy in Beirut - with at least 23 people killed and 170 wounded - was a de facto terror attack happening on 11/19. Numerology-wise, naturally 9/11 comes to mind; and so the case of the Washington-declared war on terror metastasizing - largely conducted by oozy forms of Saudi "intelligence".

Yet don't expect the "West" to condemn this as terror. Look at the headlines; it's all normalized as "blasts" - as if children were playing with firecrackers.

Whether carried out by a hazy al-Qaeda-linked brigade or by Saudi spy chief Bandar bin Sultan's (aka Bandar Bush's) goons, the Beirut terror attack is essentially configured as a major, Saudi-enabled provocation. The larger Saudi agenda in Syria implies getting both Hezbollah and Iran to be pinned down inside Lebanon as well. If that happens, Israel also wins. Once again, here's another graphic illustration of the Likudnik House of Saud in action.

Nuance also applies. Bandar Bush's strategy, coordinated with jihadis, was to virtually beg for Hezbollah to fight inside Syria. When Hezbollah obliged, with only a few hundred fighters, the jihadis scurried away from the battlefield to implement plan B: blowing up innocent women and children in the streets of Lebanon.


Netanyahu’s UN speech: Sounds like a sociopath?

Pepe Escobar

The temptation for the real “international community” would be to tell Netanyahhu to shut up – and go play with his silly cartoons.

Iranian missiles will hit New York in “three to four years”. A nuclear Iran is like “50 North Koreas”.

This could be the sound of a deranged, dangerous sociopath, or this could be the sound of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu addressing the UN General Assembly.

Compare for yourself. Last week we had Iranian President Hassan Rouhani calling for the world to surf a WAVE (as in World Against Violence and Extremism).

This week we had Bibi saying that was a “cynical” and “totally hypocritical honey trap”.

In the world according to Netanyahu, “Ahmadinejad was a wolf in wolf’s clothing. Rouhani is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.” Rouhani tried to present himself as “pious”, but he’s always been involved with “the terror state of Iran”. He’s like “a serial killer going to court dressed in clerical attire and giving testimony to his nature as an ‘ethical’ and ‘religious’ man.”

Ranting aside, Bibi did change his game. Now it’s not silly cartoons and begging the US to bomb Iran virtually on a weekly basis. Now it’s Iran’s “military nuclear program” that must be shut down – a program, by the way, that the alphabet soup of US intelligence agencies says does not exist.

And this after Netanyahu told US President Barack Obama to forget – forever - UN Security Council resolution 242, which determined total Israeli withdrawal from all lands occupied after the 1967 war.


How the US is enabling Syriastan

Pepe Escobar


A photo of an Islamic Al Qaeda leader fighting inside Syria
against Syrian armed forces. It shows a terrorist leader in
Syria, "Commander" Muhajireen Kavkaz wa Sham, a leader
of an Al-Qaeda linked group, inside a USAID tent.

If any extra evidence was needed to shatter the myth of a "revolution" struggling for a future "democratic" Syria, the big news of the week cleared any remaining doubts.

Eleven, 13 or 14 "rebel" brigades (depending on the source) have ditched the "moderate", US-propped Syrian National Council (SNC) and the not-exactly Free Syrian Army (FSA). The leaders of the bunch are the demented jihadis of Jabhat al-Nusra - but it includes other nasties such as the Tawhid brigades and the Tajammu Fastaqim Kama Ummirat in Aleppo, some of them until recently part of the collapsing FSA.

The jihadis practically ordered the myriad "moderates" to submit, "unify in a clear Islamic frame", and pledge allegiance to a future Syria with Sharia law as "the sole source of legislation".

One Ayman al-Zawahiri must be having a ball in his comfortable, drone-proof hideout somewhere in the Waziristans. Not only because his call for a multinational jihad - a la Afghanistan in the 1980s - is working; but also because the US-run SNC has been exposed for the toothless rodent that it really is.

And facts on the ground keep corroborating it. The al-Qaeda-propped Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant took over a town near the Bab al-Salam border crossing with Turkey that was held by the FSA because the FSA was accused of fighting for "democracy" and close ties with the West. Wrong; the FSA wants those ties but under a Muslim Brotherhood-controlled regime. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant - of which Jabhat al-Nusra is the main Syrian component - wants a Talibanized Syriastan.


Rouhani surfs the new WAVE

Pepe Escobar

He came. He listened. And he surfed.

"I listened carefully to the statement made by President Obama today at the General Assembly... [I'm] hoping that they will refrain from following the short-sighted interests of warmongering pressure groups and we can arrive at a framework to managing our differences."

Then he outlined what has always been the official Iranian position: "Talks can happen; equal footing and mutual respect should govern the talks." Then he addressed the expectation (actually, the world's):

"Of course, we expect to hear a consistent voice from Washington. The dominant voice in recent years has been for a military option."

But now he had another idea. So he sets the stage for the punch line: It's WAVE time. WAVE as in World Against Violence and Extremism. Not in Farsi, lost in translation; in English.

"I propose as a starting step... I invite all states... to undertake a new effort to guide the world in this direction ... we should start thinking about a coalition for peace all across the globe instead of the ineffective coalitions for war."

So the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, has just invited the whole planet to join the WAVE. How come no "coalition of the willing" leader ever thought about that?


China stitches up (SCO) Silk Rd

Pepe Escobar

While the whole world was terrified by the prospect of the Obama administration bombing Syria, Chinese President Xi Jinping was busy doing the Silk Road.

One has to love that famous Deng Xiaoping dictum; "Always maintain a low profile". This being the second-largest economy in the world, "low profile" always packs a mighty punch. Cue to September 7, in Astana, Kazakhstan's capital, when Xi officially proposed no less than a New Silk Road in co-production with Central Asia.

Xi's official "economic belt along the Silk Road" is a supremely ambitious, Chinese-fueled trans-Eurasian integration mega-project, from the Pacific to the Baltic Sea; a sort of mega free-trade zone. Xi's rationale seems to be unimpeachable; the belt is the home of "close to 3 billion people and represents the biggest market in the world with unparalleled potential".

Talk about a "wow" factor. But does that mean that China is taking over all of the Central Asian "stans"? It's not that simple.

A roomful of mirrors

On Xi's Silk Road trip, the final destination was Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan's capital, for the 13th summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). And to cap it all off, nothing less than a graphic reminder of the stakes involved in the New Great Game in Eurasia; a joint meeting on the sidelines of the SCO, featuring Xi, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

This is Rouhani's first foreign trip since he took office on August 4. Not an epic like Xi's; only two days in Bishkek. In a preliminary meeting face-to-face with Xi, Rouhani even started speaking "diplomatic Chinese" - as in the upcoming negotiations over the Iranian nuclear dossier leading, hopefully, to a "win-win" situation. Xi emphatically supported Iran's right to a peaceful nuclear program under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, while Rouhani stressed the Iran-China relationship "bears vital significance for Asia and the sensitive Middle East issue".


Obama set for holy Tomahawk war

Pepe Escobar

The ''responsibility to protect'' (R2P) doctrine invoked to legitimize the 2011 war on Libya has just transmogrified into ''responsibility to attack'' (R2A) Syria. Just because the Obama administration says so.

On Sunday, the White House said it had ''very little doubt'' that the Bashar al-Assad government used chemical weapons against its own citizens. On Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry ramped it up to ''undeniable'' - and accused Assad of ''moral obscenity''.

So when the US bombed Fallujah with white phosphorus in late 2004 it was just taking the moral high ground. And when the US helped Saddam Hussein to gas Iranians in 1988 it was also taking the moral high ground.

The Obama administration has ruled that Assad allowed UN chemical weapons inspectors into Syria, and to celebrate their arrival unleashed a chemical weapons attack mostly against women and children only 15 kilometers away from the inspectors' hotel. If you don't believe it, you subscribe to a conspiracy theory.

Evidence? Who cares about evidence? Assad's offer of access for the inspectors came ''too late''. Anyway, the UN team is only mandated to determine whether chemical weapons were deployed - but not by who, according to UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon's spokesman.

As far as the Obama administration and UK Prime Minister David ''of Arabia'' Cameron are concerned - supported by a barrage of corporate media missiles - that's irrelevant; Obama's ''red line'' has been crossed by Assad, period. Washington and London are in no-holds-barred mode to dismiss any facts contradicting the decision. Newspeak - of the R2A kind - rules. If this all looks like Iraq 2.0 that's because it is. Time to fix the facts around the policy - all over again. Time for weapons of mass deception - all over again.


‘War on chemical weapons’: Obama traps himself into Syrian combat

Pepe Escobar


A picture downloaded from the US air force website
shows F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 35th and 80th
Fighter Squadrons
(AFP Photo/US Air Force)

Only a few days before the 12th anniversary of 9/11, Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama might be fighting side by side with… al-Qaeda, as he was foolish enough to be trapped by his own rhetoric on Syria.

The dogs of war bark and the caravan… is Tomahawked. Amid out-of-control hysteria, the proverbial “unnamed US officials” spin like demented centrifuges.

Obama’s “kinetic operation” on Syria will fall out of the sky “in the next few days.” It will be “limited,” lasting only “three days,” or “no more than two days.” It will “send a message,” a “short, sharp attack” against less than 50 sites on a list of targets.

But then long-range bombers may “possibly” join the Tomahawk barrage, and all bets are off.

A proverbial, anonymous “senior administration official” even stressed the “desire to get it done before the president leaves for Russia next week.”

That’s it; we bomb a country like dialing a pizza delivery, and then we go to a G20 summit with the world’s emerging powers hosted by no less than Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin. Just because we need to prove that the president of the United States meant what he said: chemical weapons are a red line. And to hell who’s responsible for deploying them.

I’m not making this up. This is the core of White House spokesman Jay Carney’s message, when he said, in faultless Newspeak: “The options that are being considered do not contain within them a regime change focus.”

So the administration of “constitutional lawyer” Barack Obama is mulling how to attack Syria, bypassing the UN Security Council – which will veto, via Russia and China, the new resolution proposed by the UK; bypassing always-docile NATO; and with 91 percent of Americans against it, just to send an (explosive) political message. And all because a US president was foolish enough to get trapped in his own rhetoric.


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