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5 ways the Middle East has been radically changed since 1990

What was once unthinkable has become reality.

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The geo-political structure of the Middle East has changed almost diametrically since 1990. It is no coincidence that it was in 1990 when the Gulf War inaugurated decades of direct western Meddling in the region that had been mostly limited to indirect meddling and broad, often thwarted ambitions between 1957 and 1989.

Here are some of the key points of these changes:

1. The Historical Background

A worldly young person of today would find news bulletins about western meddling in the Middle East from the first half of the 20th century, far more familiar than those from the 1960s, 70s or 80s.

During much of the first half of the 20th century, the Middle East became a playground for western countries during the final decades of traditional late-modern Imperialism.

During the Arab Revolt against Ottoman rule, a theatre of  the First World War, Britain and France secretly divided the Levant and historic Mesopotamia in the 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement.

This agreement solidified what more or less corresponds to the modern borders of Lebanon, Palestine/Israel, Iraq, Jordan (first called Trans-Jordan) and Syria.

A year later, Britain authored the Balfour Declaration which set the stage for Zionist immigration to British Mandate Palestine.

In the 1920s, Britain turned its back on the Hashemites  of the Hejaz and instead started to back the House of Saud which  conquered the Hejaz in 1925. Ibn Saud eventually united his conquered lands in 1932, forming the Kingdom Saudi Arabia.

Britain and France dug in during the 1930s and the onset of the Second World War delayed any and all decolonisation measures.

By the late 1940s and 1950s, many former mandates, puppet states and colonies in all but name, began to break free of French and British rule.

Most notably, in 1952 Gamal Abdel Nasser led a revolution in Egypt against British domination and he won a resounding victory.

The following year however, Britain asked the United States to remove the democratically elected left wing nationalist Mohammad Mosaddegh from power in Iran. The CIA obliged.

This would be the last hurrah for the western Imperial powers in respect of Middle East meddling, at least in an overt sense.

In 1956, Britain, France and Israel declared war on Egypt over Nasser’s nationalisation of the Anglo-French owned Suez Canal. In a rare moment of unity, both the US and USSR forced the imperialist forces to withdraw. Thus ending decades of direct western meddling in Middle East affairs.

2. The Settled Realities Between 1957 and 1989

By the late 1980s, the most power states in the Middle East were as follows

–Iraq: Led by a powerful President Saddam Hussein, Iraq was a rich oil producing country with a formidable armed forces. Although Iraq engaged Iran in a long war with no meaningful settlement throughout the 1980s, even so, the idea that Iraq would be anything but a force to be reckoned with in the 1990s, was unthinkable.

–Egypt: Although Egypt’s harrowing foreign policies died with Nasser, Egypt remained stable and firmly in the hands of broadly Nasserist leaders. The idea that anything else would be the case in Egypt was of course, summarily unfathomable in the late 1980s.

–Libya: The Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya set up by Muammar Gaddafi in 1977, was a firm break with the past. The new state was a country based on Gaddafi’s Third International Theory. Libya’s ferocious independence was not just manifested in the country’s philosophical creed but also its economic might, infrastructural achievements and prowess in foreign affairs.

–Syria: Under President Hafez al-Assad (1970-1990), Syria achieved a level of foreign policy and economic  independence that irked both Israel and the United States. In spite of this, Syria remained untouchable, even throughout the neighbouring Lebanese war. Syria’s total defeat of the Muslims Brotherhood in the early 1980s, was a further sign of Syria’s strength and independence.

–Israel: From its inception as a state in 1948 up to 2006, Israel never technically lost a war. Israel’s military might remained for many, beyond question. We’ll see in the next sections how this too changed.

In spite of three Arab-Israeli wars during this period (1967, 1970 and 1973) as well as the Lebanese Civil War(1975-1990) and Civil War in North Yemen (1962-1970), the leadership of the Arab world remained remarkably stable. Furthermore, the Arab world’s ability to resist western attempts at covert meddling, remained remarkably successful, especially in hindsight.

3. The Awkward 1990s

With the exception of the two Yemeni states which united in 1990, there where no great changes of regime in the Middle East in the 1990s.

What happened was a prelude to the regime change hysteria of the 2000s. Iraq was the testing ground.

In 1990s, the western powers along with a foolish Egypt, devious Saudi Arabia and a Syria who still hadn’t come to terms with the Ba’athist split of 1966, invaded Iraq.

In the aftermath of this, the US led the UN to forces economically crippling sanctions on the once rich Republic.

In 1998 Bill Clinton bombed Iraq in what was a war in all but name.

By the end of the 1990s, many still felt that regime change was something which belonged in a bygone era.

All of this of course happened simultaneous to a Civil War in Algeria which begun in 1991. The war ended in 2002  when government forces emerged victorious against an Islamist insurgency.

4. Imperialism Strikes Back 2003-today

The results of the western wars on Iraq (2003), Libya (2011), Egyptian political interference in 2011 and today’s interference in Syria and Yemen, have all resulted in the unthinkable happening; a total inversion of the power structure in the Middle East.

–Iraq: Since 2003 Iraq has been a broken country both physically and due to sectarian political divides which often end in bloodshed. The Ba’athist monolith has been reduced to a sectarian playground for terrorists.

–Libya: The once unshakeable Gaddafi was overthrown by a smiling Hillary Clinton duing a NATO led war and the result has been the emergence of a failed state that cannot even agree on a single legitimate government.

–Egypt: After Barack Obama threw long-time US ally Hosni Mubarak to the dogs, which paved the way for rule by the Muslim Brotherhood between 2012 and 2013, under President Sisi, Egypt is returning to normalcy.

–Iran: After being isolated from much of the Arab world during most of the 20th century, Iran has become not only a regional power to be reckoned with, but a force for peace and stability. Iran’s opposition to Salifist terrorism as demonstrated by its aid of Syria, has put Iran in a position as an important regional power-broker. Iran’s position in the Astana Peace Talks for Syria is one of the manifestations of this.

Iran also now represents a monumental counter-weight to Saudi/Wahhabi ambitions in the wider Sunni Arab world.

–Israel and Hezbollah: In spite of still having a formidable air force and nuclear weapons, in 2006, Israel suffered its first battle-field loss in its war against Hezbollah. The once invincible Israel is invincible no more.

This has had the effect of elevating Hezbollah’s prestige not just in Lebanon but throughout the Arab world and not just the Shi’a Arab world at that.

5. As Things Stand 

The US, UK, France and others have done a remarkably good job of destroying strong, united, independent Arab states that once towered over regional geo-politics. But in spite of this, a new force of anti-imperialist actors has emerged.

Iran and Hezbollah are of course the rising powers in this respect and Syria remains in a position of strength in this alliance. Syria after all is the only Middle Eastern country which has thus far been able to resist western imposed regime change. The others have all fallen, even though as recently as 1989, this would have been difficult for many to imagine.

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European Court of Justice rules Britain free to revoke Brexit unilaterally

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that Britain can reverse Article 50.

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The UK is free to unilaterally revoke a notification to depart from the EU, the European Court has ruled. The judicial body said this could be done without changing the terms of London’s membership in the bloc.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) opined in a document issued on Monday that Britain can reverse Article 50, which stipulates the way a member state leaves the bloc. The potentially important ruling comes only one day before the House of Commons votes on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal with the EU.

“When a Member State has notified the European Council of its intention to withdraw from the European Union, as the UK has done, that Member State is free to revoke unilaterally that notification,” the court’s decision reads.

By doing so, the respective state “reflects a sovereign decision to retain its status as a Member State of the European Union.”

That said, this possibility remains in place “as long as a withdrawal agreement concluded between the EU and that Member State has not entered into force.” Another condition is: “If no such agreement has been concluded, for as long as the two-year period from the date of the notification of the intention to withdraw from the EU.”

The case was opened when a cross-party group of British politicians asked the court whether an EU member such as the UK can decide on its own to revoke the withdrawal process. It included Labour MEPs Catherine Stihler and David Martin, Scottish MPs Joanna Cherry Alyn Smith, along with Green MSPs Andy Wightman and Ross Greer.

They argued that unilateral revocation is possible and believe it could provide an opening to an alternative to Brexit, namely holding another popular vote to allow the UK to remain in the EU.

“If the UK chooses to change their minds on Brexit, then revoking Article 50 is an option and the European side should make every effort to welcome the UK back with open arms,” Smith, the SNP member, was quoted by Reuters.

However, May’s environment minister, Michael Gove, a staunch Brexit supporter, denounced the ECJ ruling, insisting the cabinet will not reverse its decision to leave. “We will leave on March 29, [2019]” he said, referring to the date set out in the UK-EU Brexit deal.

In the wake of the landmark vote on the Brexit deal, a group of senior ministers threatened to step down en masse if May does not try to negotiate a better deal in Brussels, according to the Telegraph. The ministers demanded that an alternative deal does not leave the UK trapped within the EU customs union indefinitely.

On Sunday, Will Quince resigned as parliamentary private secretary in the Ministry of Defense, saying in a Telegraph editorial that “I do not want to be explaining to my constituents why Brexit is still not over and we are still obeying EU rules in the early 2020s or beyond.”

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Seven Days of Failures for the American Empire

The American-led world system is experiencing setbacks at every turn.

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Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


On November 25, two artillery boats of the Gyurza-M class, the Berdiansk and Nikopol, one tugboat, the Yany Kapu, as well as 24 crew members of the Ukrainian Navy, including two SBU counterintelligence officers, were detained by Russian border forces. In the incident, the Russian Federation employed Sobol-class patrol boats Izumrud and Don, as  well as two Ka-52, two Su-25 and one Su-30 aircraft.

Ukraine’s provocation follows the advice of several American think-tanks like the Atlantic Council, which have been calling for NATO involvement in the Sea of Azov for months. The area is strategically important for Moscow, which views its southern borders, above all the Sea of Azov, as a potential flash point for conflict due to the Kiev’s NATO-backed provocations.

To deter such adventurism, Moscow has deployed to the Kerch Strait and the surrounding coastal area S-400 batteries, modernized S-300s, anti-ship Bal missile systems, as well as numerous electronic-warfare systems, not to mention the Russian assets and personnel arrayed in the military districts abutting Ukraine. Such provocations, egged on by NATO and American policy makers, are meant to provide a pretext for further sanctions against Moscow and further sabotage Russia’s relations with European countries like Germany, France and Italy, as well as, quite naturally, to frustrate any personal interaction between Trump and Putin.

This last objective seems to have been achieved, with the planned meeting between Trump and Putin at the G20 in Buenos Aires being cancelled. As to the the other objectives, they seem to have failed miserably, with Berlin, Paris and Rome showing no intention of imposing additional sanctions against Russia, recognizing the Ukrainian provocation fow what it is. The intention to further isolate Moscow by the neocons, neoliberals and most of the Anglo-Saxon establishment seems to have failed, demonstrated in Buenos Aires with the meeting between the BRICS countries on the sidelines and the bilateral meetings between Putin and Merkel.

On November 30, following almost two-and-a-half months of silence, the Israeli air force bombed Syria with three waves of cruise missiles. The first and second waves were repulsed over southern Syria, and the third, composed of surface-to-surface missiles, were also downed. At the same time, a loud explosion was heard in al-Kiswah, resulting in the blackout of Israeli positions in the area.

The Israeli attack was fully repulsed, with possibly two IDF drones being downed as well. This effectiveness of Syria’s air defenses corresponds with Russia’s integration of Syria’s air defenses with its own systems, manifestly improving the Syrians’ kill ratios even without employing the new S-300 systems delivered to Damascus, let alone Russia’s own S-400s. The Pantsirs and S-200s are enough for the moment, confirming my hypothesis more than two months ago that the modernized S-300 in the hands of the Syrian army is a potentially lethal weapon even for the F-35, forbidding the Israelis from employing their F-35s.

With the failed Israeli attack testifying to effectiveness of Russian air-defense measures recently deployed to the country, even the United States is finding it difficult to operate in the country. As the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War confirms:

“Russia has finished an advanced anti-access/area denial (A2AD) network in Syria that combines its own air defense and electronic warfare systems with modernized equipment. Russia can use these capabilities to mount the long-term strategic challenge of the US and NATO in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and the Middle East, significantly widen the geographic reach of Russia’s air defense network. Russia stands to gain a long-term strategic advantage over NATO through its new capabilities in Syria. The US and NATO must now account for the risk of a dangerous escalation in the Middle East amidst any confrontation with Russia in Eastern Europe.”

The final blow in a decidedly negative week for Washington’s ambitions came in Buenos Aires during the G20, where Xi Jinping was clearly the most awaited guest, bringing in his wake investments and opportunities for cooperation and mutual benefit, as opposed to Washington’s sanctions and tariffs for its own benefit to the detriment of others. The key event of the summit was the dinner between Xi Jinping and Donald Trump that signalled Washington’s defeat in the trade war with Beijing. Donald Trump fired the first shot of the economic war, only to succumb just 12 months later with GM closing five plants and leaving 14,000 unemployed at home as Trump tweeted about his economic achievements.

Trump was forced to suspend any new tariffs for a period of ninety days, with his Chinese counterpart intent on demonstrating how an economic war between the two greatest commercial powers had always been a pointless propagandistic exercise. Trump’s backtracking highlights Washington’s vulnerability to de-dollarization, the Achilles’ heel of US hegemony.

The American-led world system is experiencing setbacks at every turn. The struggle between the Western elites seems to be reaching a boil, with Frau Merkel ever more isolated and seeing her 14-year political dominance as chancellor petering out. Macron seems to be vying for the honor of being the most unpopular French leader in history, provoking violent protests that have lasted now for weeks, involving every sector of the population. Macron will probably be able to survive this political storm, but his political future looks dire.

The neocons/neoliberals have played one of the last cards available to them using the Ukrainian provocation, with Kiev only useful as the West’s cannon fodder against Russia. In Syria, with the conflict coming to a close and Turkey only able to look on even as it maintains a strong foothold in Idlib, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States are similarly unable to affect the course of the conflict. The latest Israeli aggression proved to be a humiliation for Tel Aviv and may have signalled a clear, possibly definitive warning from Moscow, Tehran and Damascus to all the forces in the region. The message seems to be that there is no longer any possibility of changing the course of the conflict in Syria, and every provocation from here on will be decisively slapped down. Idlib is going to be liberated and America’s illegal presence in the north of Syria will have to be dealt with at the right time.

Ukraine’s provocation has only strengthened Russia’s military footprint in Crimea and reinforced Russia’s sovereign control over the region. Israel’s recent failure in Syria only highlights how the various interventions of the US, the UK, France and Turkey over the years have only obliged the imposition of an almost unparalleled A2AD space that severely limits the range of options available to Damascus’s opponents.

The G20 also served to confirm Washington’s economic diminution commensurate with its military one in the face of an encroaching multipolar environment. The constant attempts to delegitimize the Trump administration by America’s elites, also declared an enemy by the European establishment, creates a picture of confusion in the West that benefits capitals like New Delhi, Moscow, Beijing and Tehran who offer instead stability, cooperation and dialogue.

As stated in previous articles, the confusion reigning amongst the Western elites only accelerates the transition to a multipolar world, progressively eroding the military and economic power of the US.

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Is Silicon Valley Morphing Into The Morality Police?

Who gets to define what words and phrases protected under the First Amendment constitute hate — a catchall word that is often ascribed to any offensive speech someone simply doesn’t like?

The Duran

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Authored by Adrian Cohen via Creators.com:


Silicon Valley used to be technology companies. But it has become the “morality police,” controlling free speech on its platforms.

What could go wrong?

In a speech Monday, Apple CEO Tim Cook said:

“Hate tries to make its headquarters in the digital world. At Apple, we believe that technology needs to have a clear point of view on this challenge. There is no time to get tied up in knots. That’s why we only have one message for those who seek to push hate, division and violence: You have no place on our platforms.”

Here’s the goliath problem:

Who gets to define what words and phrases protected under the First Amendment constitute hate — a catchall word that is often ascribed to any offensive speech someone simply doesn’t like?

Will Christians who don’t support abortion rights or having their tax dollars go toward Planned Parenthood be considered purveyors of hate for denying women the right to choose? Will millions of Americans who support legal immigration, as opposed to illegal immigration, be labeled xenophobes or racists and be banned from the digital world?

Yes and yes. How do we know? It’s already happening, as scores of conservatives nationwide are being shadow banned and/or censored on social media, YouTube, Google and beyond.

Their crime?

Running afoul of leftist Silicon Valley executives who demand conformity of thought and simply won’t tolerate any viewpoint that strays from their rigid political orthodoxy.

For context, consider that in oppressive Islamist regimes throughout the Middle East, the “morality police” take it upon themselves to judge women’s appearance, and if a woman doesn’t conform with their mandatory and highly restrictive dress code — e.g., wearing an identity-cloaking burqa — she could be publicly shamed, arrested or even stoned in the town square.

In modern-day America, powerful technology companies are actively taking the role of the de facto morality police — not when it comes to dress but when it comes to speech — affecting millions. Yes, to date, those affected are not getting stoned, but they are being blocked in the digital town square, where billions around the globe do their business, cultivate their livelihoods, connect with others and get news.

That is a powerful cudgel to levy against individuals and groups of people. Wouldn’t you say?

Right now, unelected tech billionaires living in a bubble in Palo Alto — when they’re not flying private to cushy climate summits in Davos — are deciding who gets to enjoy the freedom of speech enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and who does not based on whether they agree with people’s political views and opinions or not.

You see how dangerous this can get — real fast — as partisan liberal elites running Twitter, Facebook, Google (including YouTube), Apple and the like are now dictating to Americans what they can and cannot say online.

In communist regimes, these types of folks are known as central planners.

The election of Donald Trump was supposed to safeguard our freedoms, especially regarding speech — a foundational pillar of a democracy. It’s disappointing that hasn’t happened, as the censorship of conservative thought online has gotten so extreme and out of control many are simply logging off for good.

A failure to address this mammoth issue could cost Trump in 2020. If his supporters are blocked online — where most voters get their news — he’ll be a one-term president.

It’s time for Congress to act before the morality police use political correctness as a Trojan horse to decide our next election.

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