Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

EU Slams Pompeo’s Iran Strategy: It Won’t Make Region Safer From Nuclear Threat

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s promise to slap the “strongest sanctions in history” on Tehran after Washington’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal prompted an outcry from European officials. EU foreign policy Chief Federica Mogherini, commenting on the possible unprecedented sanctions against Iran pledged by Pompeo, warned:

There’s no alternative to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Secretary Pompeo’s speech hasn’t demonstrated how walking away from the JCPOA made or will make the region safer from the threat of nuclear proliferation or how it puts us in a better position to influence Iran’s conduct in areas outside the scope of JCPOA. The Iran nuclear deal is the result of more than a decade of complex and delicate negotiations; it’s the best possible outcome, striking the right balance. This deal belongs to the international community, endorsed by the UN Security Council. The international community expects all sides to keep the commitments they made more than two years ago. Iran’s adheres to the JCPOA; the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed ten times that Iran delivered on all its nuclear-related commitments.

Just hours before Pompeo’s speech on Iran, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson declared:

Washington’s plan to tighten the screws against the Islamic Republic won’t work. If you try now to fold all those issues… the ballistic missiles, Iran’s misbehaviour, Iran’s disruptive activity in the region and the nuclear question… if you try to fold all those into a giant negotiation, I don’t see that being very easy to achieve, in anything like a reasonable timetable. After Washington’s exit from the Iran nuclear deal, the prospect of a new jumbo Iran treaty is going to be very, very difficult. I’m not totally pessimistic about the situation. In the end, there’s a deal to be done that gives Iran greater economic access to the West but also constrains it. I think, in the end, we’ll get back to the kind of additions to the JCPOA that we initially envisaged, but it may take a long time.

For his part, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said:

Berlin took into account the US position. It didn’t come as a surprise. During my visit to Washington later this week, I’ll meet with Pompeo to discuss the issue. The situation hasn’t changed for us. During its summit in Sofia, the EU gave a unified signal that we want to keep the Iran nuclear deal. Without this agreement, we could run the risk that Iran could restart a nuclear programme.

In turn, the Iranian Foreign Ministry used stern language to comment on Pompeo’s speech:

Iran rejects the allegations and lies in this so-called new strategy; it condemns the US Secretary of State’s open interference in its internal affairs and its unlawful threats against a UN member state. Pompeo’s remarks are a naïve attempt to divert the international community’s attention away from Washington’s violation of the JCPOA. The US government will be responsible for the consequences of any persecution as well as unlawful and violent actions against the Iranian nation. The insignificant, insulting, and secondary remarks of the new US Secretary of State and his unacceptable attitude to the great and civilised Iranian nation testify to the US government officials’ despair and helpless stance on the Iranians.

In his speech “After the Deal: A New Iran Strategy” at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, Pompeo pledged:

The USA will apply unprecedented financial pressure on Tehran via sanctions. The sting of sanctions won’t ease until Iran changes its course. The new sanctions will be the strongest in history and will make Tehran battle to keep its economy alive. The USA would hold any entity conducting business with Tehran to account; we hope that US allies beyond Europe will support the new anti-Iranian sanctions.

In early May, President Donald Trump announced the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, in a move that sparked a cold snap in Washington’s ties with its European allies and co-signatories to the deal, including the EU, Germany, France, the UK, Iran, Russia, and China.

22 May 2018

Sputnik International

https://sputniknews.com/world/201805221064672753-pompeo-iran-sanctions-mogherini

Editor:

The USA is sounding desperate. It doesn’t have the ground forces to attack Iran… neither can it count on any from its allies, especially not from the KSA and Israel, which are its only local allies with any substantive ground forces (and they don’t match the Iranian ground forces in size). Naval force is irrelevant, as carriers couldn’t operate in the Persian Gulf and Iran could trade via land links to China and Russia. Air forces would face a robust air-defence system. Therefore, the only card left to the peevish Anglo toddlers is the nuclear option. With the adolescent Trump in charge, we’re in the deep kimchi, indeed. The only saving grace in this is that Hillary would’ve already used nukes on Iran… God alone knows what that would’ve led to.

The world holds its breath and waits…

BMD

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Sunday, 20 May 2018

US Policy: Provocation and War

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Many observers note that the USA appears to be undergoing a historic process of “strategic decline”. In order to stave off deterioration in its political and economic power, the USA resorts to greater dependence on militarism and aggression. For that to work, a policy of ramping up provocations against other nations is a necessary concomitant, as militarism and aggression need a pretext of conflict. This is the unavoidable conclusion from several international interfaces. The USA resorts to stepped-up aggression as a means of asserting its power against its perceived global rivals, as well as to shore up its debt-ridden decrepit capitalist economy. Washington explicitly identifies those rivals as Russia and China, as well as to a lesser extent Iran, Lebanon’s Hizbullah, Syria, the DPRK, and Venezuela. Washington views all of them as impediments to American ambitions for global hegemony.

One can see the violence in Gaza this week by the Israeli military in the context of a wider policy in Washington of provocation. The shooting dead of over 60 unarmed Palestinians in a single day by Israeli snipers and the maiming of thousands of others, including women and children, was arguably a deliberate attempt to incite greater violence across the Middle East. It seems no coincidence that the atrocity happened on the very day that the USA controversially opened a new embassy in the contested city of Jerusalem, despite widespread international warning against the move as violating Palestinian rights. US President Donald Trump embraced the right-wing Israeli leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu to articulate an extreme partisan view of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in which Palestinian rights are non-existent. The gratuitous use of lethal force, as American dignitaries gathered a short distance away in Jerusalem, seems to have been a calculated attempt to provoke a violent reaction.

If the USA and Israel incited an armed response from Lebanon’s Hizbullah or Iran…parties that long-denounced American imperialism in the Middle East… then, the ensuing chaos plays well for Washington. It’d give the USA and Israel an excuse to step up military force against these rivals. That could take the form of more US-backed Israeli air strikes on Iranian and Hizbullah bases in Syria, despite those bases being legally present. For the USA, the main objective of provoking greater instability and conflict is to undermine Russia and its recently regained stature as a major international power in the Middle East, owing to its successful military intervention in Syria at the end of 2015 to defeat US-backed régime-change proxies.

Russia’s intervention in Syria ordered by President Putin served to accelerate the sense of strategic decline for the USA. Russia’s military deployment in Syria abruptly stopped the American policy of régime-change in the Middle East (as seen in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and elsewhere) in its tracks. Iranian and Hizbullah forces legally requested by the Assad government to defend the state also halted the American bingeing on regime-change. The defeat of its terrorist proxies in Syria was a major setback for the USA and its British, French, and Turkish NATO allies, as well as for American client régimes in Israel and Saudi Arabia that colluded in the covert regime-change assault. To salvage this momentous defeat, and more generally, strategic decline, the USA seems to have embarked on a desperate policy of provocation, aided by its client régimes.

The aggressive way that Trump pulled the US out of the international nuclear accord with Iran last week caught many observers and European allies by surprise with his hardline obstreperous manner. Everyone knew Trump despised the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) signed in 2015 by President Obama. However, few expected Trump to violate the deal with such bellicose threats to intensify economic sanctions on Tehran, as well as on European states doing business with Iran. By vilifying Iran as a terrorist state and ranting against Tehran over its alleged secret nuclear-weapons building, Trump ostentatiously adopted the Israeli position of demonising Iran.

In particular, the Trump Administration’s warnings to Europe that the USA would penalise its firms and banks for continuing to do business with Iran, as is their right under the JCPOA, seemed to be a calculated provocation to crash the accord and incite Iran to resume past nuclear activities, which Trump, as well as Israel, intimated would be met with military attack. So far, Trump’s provocations over the Iran deal have failed. Iran and the other signatories… Russia, China, and the EU… agreed to continue implementing the accord. However, given this failure, so far, to sabotage the JCPOA, one can expect that the USA and its regional partners will try to ramp up provocations. The Israeli air strikes on Iranian bases in Syria the day after Trump announced the US pullout from the accord appears to have been a deliberate attempt at antagonising Iran even further. So too were Saudi claims that a missile attack on Riyadh from Yemen were “an act of war by Iran” owing to its alleged support to the Houthi rebels.

The renewed belligerence from the USA, Israel, and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East appears to be a systematic effort to stoke conflict. Syria, Iran, and Lebanon, as well as Iraq and Yemen, are on the firing line for embroiling the region in further chaos. Ultimately, however, the bigger targets for US-induced instability are Russia and China, which Washington views as “great power competitors”. The American supply of lethal weapons to the Ukraine earlier this month… the first such supply after years of non-lethal military aid to the Kiev régime… rankled Russia. Deployment of US military advisors to oversee the use of Javelin ATGMs is a move that’d likely escalate the violence in the Eastern Ukraine on Russia’s border.

Of course, the continuing buildup of NATO offensive forces from the Balkans to the Black Sea along Russia’s Western flank presents an even bigger vista of provocation. The relaunching of the US Second Fleet in the Atlantic after years being in mothballs is evidently part of a massive NATO mobilisation. Elsewhere, increasing American deployment of warships in the South China Sea over alleged “freedom of navigation” concerns near Chinese territorial waters is another manifestation of Washington’s foreign policy of provocation. Trump’s superficial diplomatic engagement with the DPRK is now under test with Pyongyang’s warning this week that it isn’t going to give up nuclear weapons unilaterally on the say-so of Washington. It remains to be seen if Trump’s apparent flurry of diplomacy with the DPRK will give way to the previous pattern of American belligerence and threats of war. Indeed, if the USA is employing a systematic foreign policy of provocation, as seems the case, then, we can expect the USA to abandon the recent détente with the DPRK.

After decades of proclaiming itself a benign global power, the stark conclusion is that the USA is clearly emerging as a scourge on international peace. US foreign policy? There seems little else to it other than the USA is increasingly wired for provocation and war.

17 May 2018

Finian Cunningham

Sputnik International

https://sputniknews.com/columnists/201805171064551559-us-policy-provocation-war/

Sunday, 13 May 2018

13 May 2018. Sputnik Infographic. Just Who Has Expelled Russian Diplomats?

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As one can see from the above presentation, only three countries engaged in any major expulsion of Russian diplomats… the USA, the UK, and the Ukraine. No one outside the Anglosphere and the EU axis expelled any diplomats. No one. In short, the only countries isolated aren’t Russia and China, but rather the USA and its close ally, the UK, and its dog-like puppet, the Ukraine. Puts a different spin on the shit emanating from CNN, the BBC, and NPR, doesn’t it?

BMD

European Foreign Policy Chief Frederica Mogherini: Trump “Systematically Destroying and Dismantling Everything”

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As the EU increasingly faces an atmosphere of disunity and disruption, Trump’s ditching the JCPOA only threatens to make matters worse for Europe. However, that’s not all, EU foreign policy chief Frederica Mogherini noted that it also increasingly isolates America. She pointed up, “no country’s big enough to face this world alone”. It seems that Trump’s hubris is big enough to try it.

Politico reported that on Friday, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said that the Iran nuclear deal can survive without US support. Speaking at a State of the Union conference, Mogherini said she received assurances from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani that his country would stand by the agreement, despite US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw and reimpose sanctions on Iran earlier this week. Mogherini said:

We’re determined to keep this deal in place, only Iran has the power to wreck the deal unilaterally.

The Italian diplomat will meet with the foreign ministers of Germany, France, and the UK… the three European powers that brokered the nuclear deal along with the EU, USA, China, and Russia… in Brussels Tuesday to discuss the future of the agreement. The European diplomats will also meet with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. The Europeans seek to demonstrate that they can still deliver most of the economic benefits they promised Tehran in exchange for giving up its nuclear weapons programme and allowing a robust system of international inspections, as well as persuade European companies active in Iran not to abandon their deals out of fear of penalties from the USA. In her speech, Mogherini took several shots at Trump, though she didn’t mention the US President by name, saying:

It seems that screaming, shouting, insulting, and bullying, systematically destroying and dismantling everything that’s already in place, is the mood of our times. While the secret of change… and we need change… is to put all energies not in destroying the old, but rather in building the new. This impulse to destroy isn’t leading us anywhere good. It isn’t solving any of our problems.

Europe has gone along with just about everything that America has asked for, and sometimes, even volunteering. Whether it’s been war or economic sanctions, Europe was gung-ho about showing some solidarity with American interests in the hopes of scoring some brownie points with the Americans, both over the business of security, as well as obtaining America’s interest in joining in on European market initiatives. However, it hasn’t all been quite as rosy as was hoped. Europe hasn’t been paying attention to America’s belligerent and narcissistic ways. America has overthrown régimes, waged wars and slighted international law whenever it suits them. Why, then, should they be expected to be a reliable partner in anything, when they have such a long history of breaking their word and violating their own principles? Now, it seems, Europe is finally starting to see what their unfaithful partner is really about.

13 May 2018

Frank Sellars

The Duran

http://theduran.com/trump-destroying-and-dismantling-everything-says-eu-foreign-policy-chief/

Editor:

Trump has three options, none of them good.

  • He can attack the Europeans for not going along with him. He might get the UK on board, but it’d piss off the Continental Europeans.
  • He can withdraw his statement, but due to the US domestic political situation, which isn’t good for him at all, this is dead on arrival.
  • He can also do nothing. That is, Europe goes its way; the USA goes its way… with no fuss on either side.

The last is the most likely outcome. However, Trump is used to “firing” those who displease him, but he has no control over foreign figures. He can’t simply fire and humiliate them like a character on The Apprentice. That’s where the danger comes in. Trump is juvenile, narcissistic, and sadistic. When vexed, he tends to strike out (I should mention that as bad and incoherent as Trump is, Hillary is far worse… her feral and grasping narcissism makes his self-centred greed seem innocent and childlike in comparison). As POTUS, he has control of the “bomb button”. If that doesn’t scare you…

BMD

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